In Chapter 2 of Principles of American Journalism, the following quote stuck out to me:
“What sets journalism apart is the stuff that happens between picking up on some interesting information and passing it along. It’s the checking, questioning, and corroborating of that information” (Craft & Davis 32).
I remember the Rolling Stone story and situation that followed very clearly, because this happened during the first year I was in a journalism class in high school. We had a lengthy discussion in class about the importance of verification when writing a story. Journalism is more than just taking information and relaying it to the public – it involves making sure that information is actually true. This rule applies to interviews too, especially when your story involves a serious subject like rape accusations. You can’t just quote people and trust their word – you have to verify in some way that what they said is actually true. It reminds me of a quote that my mom actually found and shared with me: “If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the f***ing window and find out which is true.”
Another part of this chapter that stuck out to me discussed the way journalists view the public:
“Thinking of people as citizens instead of as, say, an audience or consumers shapes how journalists do their work, both the kinds of stories they pursue as well as how they pursue them” (42).
As someone majoring in communication and journalism, I have to be able to separate the way I view people depending on the type of work I’m doing. In my communication courses, I am viewing people as an audience that I am trying to reach with a message that my company is trying to send. That message is crafted based on the goals of the organization or company. However, with journalism, I have to change my mindset to view people as citizens who are intelligent enough to make decisions based on the unbiased information I provide. In communication, your underlying goal is to get people to agree with your organization and make your organization look good. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but in journalism, we aren’t trying to persuade people to agree or disagree with anything. We simply provide the facts and allow the public to make decisions based on that information.