You are on page 1of 24

Chapter 1 Where is journalism headed?

Does journalism have a future in the age of user-generated content?

Is journalism still essential to democracy?

What kind of journalist do you want to be?

User-generated content:
Began with the Indymedia movement (1999):
A move away from mainstream media towards independent media.

Citizen journalism and social media followed:

Do-it-yourself journalism for example, YouTube, blogs and Twitter.

Todays news is fast, lean, available on the move and comes from a variety of sources.

Has the boundary between journalist and audience completely broken down? If it has, does it matter? What does it mean for democracy? Is citizen journalism in the public interest? Do we still need trained journalists?

Why we need trained journalists:

The present system is not perfect, but its better than information chaos and anarchy. Skilled journalists find and deliver the news without fanfare or embellishment. The watchdog role of news media is still important.

The citizen journalism movement has had some negative outcomes: Several freelance reporters recently died in Libya. New York Times photographer Michael Kamber blogged that he was shocked by the hundreds of inexperienced photographers and journalists chasing bullets and bombs in Misrata and other liberated cities. He wrote that the packs of green photographers were not taking war seriously (Photographing conflict for the first time, blog, 25

Trained journalists:
Can write grammatically and with an easy flow Know what is interesting to editors and publishers Know how to find interesting material

Can put it together in a way that that is easily understood.

The news media is sometimes known as the fourth estate. In British history, the other estates were the Lords Spiritual (priesthood), the Lords Temporal (aristocracy) and the House of Commons (commoners). Today, the other estates can be seen as the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The fourth estate acts as a watchdog to hold those in the other estates accountable for their actions.

The fourth estate is under threat:

News production is no longer an independent enterprise. A handful of multinational companies control most news, entertainment and information outlets.

A 2008 study of British news industry showed that more than 80% of news items in the daily press were sourced from press releases and official sources.

But journalism still provides a watchdog

Two Queensland lawyers investigated a serious matter that had been raised by the

Weekend Independent.

They summed up the case for journalism very effectively. They pointed out that:
Journalists face the difficult task of identifying wrongdoing, often without legal experience or assistance.

They then have to express complex issues in ways that can be understood by everyday people.

They cant publish detailed reports their reports need to be brief enough to hold peoples attention.
They must be driven to some extent by the publics desire for sensationalism, but also by the need to maintain public interest. The lawyers said: When one considers all of the constraints under which journalists operate, one must

All journalists should:

Hold power to account, comfort the afflicted and afflict the too-comfortable Pay attention to detail Understand and adhere to an ethical code

Take an interest in history and the politics of journalism.

There are print, radio and television journalists (the traditional platforms) and online journalists. These days, journalists are likely to have to work across more than one platform. You could be a generalist or specialist journalist.

Throughout your career, you could move

Generalist reporters:
Cover a wide range of topics Go to the scene of a story at the drop of a hat.

Specialist reporters (rounds or beat reporters):

Cover a specific subject area sport, education, business, etc. Have an in-depth knowledge of their round Keep a very close eye on what has happened, is happening and is going to happen in their round.

Golden rules for all journalists:

Know what you dont know.
Know how to find out about what you dont know.

Dont be afraid to ask the obvious questions

Amy Corderoy, Sydney

Morning Herald:

You must learn to navigate the murky and often complicated world of conflict of interest and pharmaceutical influence. Health is one round that involves more bureaucrats and government bodies than many others

Clint Wheeldon, ABC Sport, Perth: [To] cover sport, you will be expected to know a massive amount of detail about a wide range of sports. Youll only be able to do this if you really, really, desperately want to.

Andrew Moraitis, Melbournebased freelance critic and reviewer:

In film criticism, an understanding of film language and narrative is vital: if one cannot tell the difference between a dolly and a pan shot or between a satire and a farce, how can he or she talk intelligently about filmmakers choices?

You need to be a great storyteller. Fabulous communication skills are hugely important, and so is the ability to think on your toes. The world of entertainment ... moves at lightning speed, and you cant afford to be two paces behind.

Business journalists spend all their days speaking to informed, interesting and often very powerful people. That can be fun and scary, but its rarely boring.

Curiosity, tenacity and confidence The ability to recognise and pitch a good news story The ability to uncover human-interest stories The ability to persuade people to talk Good interviewing skills Good note-taking skills

A willingness to do shiftwork

A flair for writing, including good grammar and spelling

Punctuality and the ability to work under pressure

Trustworthiness, honesty and loyalty The ability to master new technology A strong sense of right and wrong


There is debate over whether journalism should or should not be objective. Old-school journalists say journalism is an objective science. Others say journalists attitudes towards the world are bound to affect their work.

George Orwell provided four motives that could affect journalists objectivity:
Sheer egoism Aesthetic egoism Historical impulse Political purpose.

There is controversy over whether political purpose strays too far from objectivity.
Does the desire to push the world in a certain direction have a role to play in journalism?