September 27, 2005

Elements of Journalism

I found chapter three of Kovach and Rosenstiel's text "Elements of Journalism" very interesting because I had never really given much thought to the question "who do journalists work for?" I am very glad that Kovach and Rosenstiel made a point in emphasizing that "journalism's first loyalty is to citizens." I feel that too often today journalists write with a skewed view of what the public needs to hear.

For instance, from what I observed of the Hurricane Katrina coverage, I felt that an overwhelming majority of it focused on attacking or defending a particular political slant. Now, while discussing the politics involved in the disaster is certainly important and newsworthy, I felt that it really overshadowed some of the other stories that should have been covered more. For instance, this story on foreign aid appeared seven stories below a story regarding the political "blame game."

If a journalist's first loyalty is to the citizen, then shouldn't that journalist make an effort to report every story with equal voracity? I think it's wonderful that young journalists are given texts that emphasize this notion of writing for the people, but I also feel that those journalists who have been in the field a while may need a reminder. I wonder if there are any journalism conferences that remind working journalists of the values they should be upholding?

Lou Gagliardi's blog about the same subject took this idea a step further and accused all modern journalists of giving their first loyalty to "the PR machines that spew out what journalists are and aren't allowed to say." While some modern journalists may not have put the citizen first, I do not believe that the system has become completely corrupt. The simple fact that there is a text for aspiring journalists that educate them to this principle shows that modern journalism hasn't completely lost its idealism.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at September 27, 2005 11:09 PM | TrackBack

Great point, Johanna. The political "blamegame" as you called it, was one of the most disappointing aspects of the Hurricane coverage. Well everyone was pointing fingers and blaming each other, people were dying in attics, floating in stagnant sewage water. When will get past ourselves and wake up to our own minute significance and agendas? What will it take for newsreporters to cover the most important aspect of news stories instead of the most sensational? I don't know but with each "blamegameesque" turn, the media is losing credibility fast.

Posted by: John Haddad at September 28, 2005 04:36 PM
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