Journalism and Journalists

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Coming to a close, this Comms239 class has truly taught me what journalism is and who journalists are.  Looking back at my very first blog post, surprisingly my first opinion of journalists was pretty spot on; however, I have learned to a much deeper level what being a journalist consists of.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states journalism as:

the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media.
Furthermore, that journalists are people who engage in journalism.  This definition is true, but it only touches the mere surface of what journalism really is and who journalists really are.  Journalism is merely the news, and news is written by journalists.
Bill Moyers gives the perfect description:
“News is what people want to keep hidden.”
Journalism is telling people the truth about what is going on in the world.  It is giving people the important issues–letting people know, not what to think, but what to think about.  Journalism requires the best journalists who can give the truth while staying objective and intriguing.
Journalists are not merely writers who work for the New York Times, they must qualify to fit the criteria of a journalist.  Journalists must be objective, stating the truth without biased.  They must also make sure to use reliable sources so the public can learn to trust their information.  While news is news, a journalists’ job is not only to report the current events.  A journalist must make the significant interesting!  Nobody wants to read a boring news article; it must be relevant to the average citizen’s life otherwise they couldn’t care less about it.  A journalist needs to fit the pieces together into the bigger context of life: why does this matter?  It is the journalist’s job to give the public that answer.
In accordance with the above requirements of a journalist, they must also balance what the public wants to hear and what they need to hear.  After all, a journalists’ first loyalty is to you: the reader.  They must give you what  you want but also what you need.  This is where infotainment comes into play.  Making the significant interesting can play into entertainment, but while also giving them the information they need.  Journalists must find that balance of too much infotainment, because too much of the entertainment factor can distract from what’s important and only leaves the audience wanting more.  A good metaphor is that too much ice cream makes you sick of sweets, or only leaves you wanting the next best flavor.  There is never a compromise sticking with the same ice cream; news is the same.  This is why there are many flavors, or sections, or a magazine or newspaper.  We need moderation in everything.
Bottom line: a journalist, yes, is someone who participates in journalism.  Going further than that, a journalist must fulfill all of their requirements in order to truly be considered a journalist.  If a NYTimes writer gives unreliable sources, fogging the line between truth and storytelling, they may not be a true journalist.  It’s a tough job.  A lot harder than I initially knew.   A journalist is in their field only because they love it.  They want the news first and they want to let people know what is going on!
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