Establishing the Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

Standard

The third elements of journalism is: the essence of journalism is a disciple of verification.

Verification is what separates journalism from blogs, propaganda, films, etc. The three main points of verification are as follows: objectivity, transparency, and originality.

What is considered a reliable source? For me, it is when the story is stated as fact, something believable, with credible sources to back it up, and evidence of its occurrence. In the chapter on “Journalism and Verification,” in the book Elements of Journalism, it correctly states how the term objectivity is a misunderstood concept today and is largely lost. Many people think too much on this subject; as long as a journalist writes the facts, the truth will unveil itself regardless if there is a slight unbalanced perspective.  This included not putting emotional spins on a story or assuming anything. Never assume.

To ensure verification and maintain credibility in writing:

1. Never add anything that was not there.

2. Never deceive the audience.

3. Be as transparent as possible about your methods and motives.

4. Rely on your own original reporting

5. Exercise humility.

Humility means recognizing your errors.  We are not perfect; we are only human and we all make mistakes. The majority of the public does not like arrogant writers.  In addition to taking account of your mistakes as a writer, reading an article that is dripping with ego is thoroughly unenjoyable anyway.

“How can you claim to be seeking to convey the truth if your not truthful with the audience in the first place?”       –The Elements of Journalism

Transparency in writing is giving the audience the answers to questions like “How do you know what you know?”

This article gives a different view of transparent journalism, claiming to share personal aspect of your life to the writer. To be a transparent writer, does not mean you must open you personal life to the public.

Transparency in writing shows the writer’s respect for the reader and gives the reader a reason to trust the writer. It allows us to believe certain stories and disbelieve others.  Transparency shows the audience that there are no secrets; simply the facts how the audience wants.  It is called the key to credibility.  A journalist must include as much as possible about how the news organization got their information.  So how do we obtain it?  State both sides of the story, even if you do not have the answer. That exercises humility as well as gaining transparency.  To be more transparent and verified, sources should be made known instead of anonymous if possible. Writers must give reasons behind their actions; leave no secrets.  I don’t know about you, but whenever somebody acts like they are hiding something, I immediately become skeptical and defensive.  I am also so curious I need to find out what they were hiding–we wouldn’t want our audience to find out something we did not tell them.  That wouldn’t look so good.

Originality–another key aspect of verification.

Just like back in the fifth grade, not doing you own work gets you in trouble.  If a writer is not original, why trust them?  Credibility is lost once an esteemed journalist is found to be a fraud. Being original is part of being a journalist.  Do your own work and do it for yourself. Find the facts on your own, find credible sources on your own, and don’t be influenced by other media.

An example of a writer who did not follow these points of verification is Jayson Blair. Obviously he did not give credible sources–they were made up.

As long as we, as writers, follow the objectivity, transparency, and originality points, we can maintain credibility with our audience and change the world one blog at a time.

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One response »

  1. Tawny, great insight on objectivity! I thought it was interesting how the book phrased the definition of objectivity too. The authors believed that at the beginning of journalism objectivity meant something different. They believed that journalists should have several different biases, and with multiple different views, eventually the truth would be revealed. Thanks for expanding!

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