September 19, 2005

Newswriting - How to Report the news

Ochs wanted "to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of the party, sect, or interests involved."

All the reading made very convincing arguments: be objective, report the news even if it isn't favorable for a sponsor, cater to the audience - they are the ones journalists are serving. However, I can't help but noticing the divorced reality between the text and what goes on in the world. It seems as though these upstanding values can be advocated, preached, but nothing gets done because journalists are out to turn a dollar: whether by unearthing the latest scandal or failing to uncover a newsworthy scandal. The news business is very political: even papers are named with the party they favor: The Tribune Democrat, for instance. It is a challenge to remain objective, fair, and bias-free. We're humans, we have shortcomings. If we followed this book to a tee, a news story would suddenly become a list or a collection of facts.

Posted by KatieAikins at September 19, 2005 3:34 PM

Most journalists, like most people of any profession, are ordinary people who do their job and do it well. Of course journalists want to get paid for their work, just like anyone who does any job.

Historically, words such as "Democrat" or "Republican" in the title of a newspaper identified the political allegiance that paper was expected to show. But as the smaller regional papers got bought out by larger companies, often the market could only support a single paper in a community. While the newspaper's lead editorial might endorse a particular candidate or policy, the news page is supposed to be run as a separate operation.

Here are some paragraphs from the ethics statement published by the Johnstown, Pa.

Tribune-Democrat.Journalists are expected to maintain an objectivity based on fairness and openness. Membership or association with special groups or interests, political or nonpolitical, will color that objectivity in the eyes of the readers.

Therefore, Tribune-Democrat newsroom employees are forbidden from participation in political parties or events because that participation gives our readers the perception that our work is biased or favors a party, group or cause.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 20, 2005 1:22 PM

Katie, I agree with your observation. After looking at class notes and reading this book, I came to the same conclusion. If you just report facts and statistics, who would be interested in reading? When writing a news article, I miss using "flowery" language, and also I enjoy writing argumentative writing. I try to cut this from my articles, but I think that removes what makes it interesting.

I noticed in the Tribune that some of the writers do use adjectives, opinions, etc. I think this is probably because they are professional writers and have that freedom. As students of journalism we are learning the "craft", once we learn than maybe we can add more "art."

Posted by: Jenna O'Brocto at September 26, 2005 12:23 PM

I wonder if we will get to have that freedom?

Even though it slants the article - no one can be totally free from their personal views.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 26, 2005 11:54 PM