As I read the first chapter of Principles of American Journalism, this passage stuck out to me:
“News is more than mere information; it is the result of processes and judgments constructed through institutions devoted to news gathering” (Craft & Davis 12).
When I describe the role of journalism, I often say the main goal is to inform the public. However, this quote put into perspective how much more is actually involved in the process of informing the public. Journalists don’t just report all the information they gather to the public – they have to decide which information they choose to present. As the authors stated, there is an abundance of information available, and what makes journalism unique is its ability to sort through that abundance of information and tell the public what is most important. Of course, journalists are always going to receive criticism for being “biased” based on what they choose to report, but good journalists aren’t reporting and withholding certain information to benefit their own personal agendas.
Throughout my work as a student journalist both in high school and college, I have engaged with this process of sorting through and choosing information to report. Typically, I interview multiple people for a news story, and not every quote from every person is relevant or informative enough to include in the article, especially when information provided by sources is repetitive or off-topic. I have to make decisions about which quotes to include in my articles, or else my articles would just be a very long transcript of information, not news.
Similarly, as an editor, I have to make decisions about which articles we include in our print magazines. There is an abundance of information out there, but we have to decide which information is most relevant to our audience of the Seton Hill community. This goes back to what we learned about what constitutes as newsworthy, and we make our decisions about which information to report based on that. One recent example is when I chose to cover the changes to parking on campus. This story was relevant to the Seton Hill community since it affected many people on campus, and I had to decide how to convey this information. I interviewed a commuter student, a resident student, an employee in the business office, and the chief of campus police to get a more complete picture of the situation, and I chose the most relevant quotes from each source to inform the public in the most effective way I could.