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Chapter 7: Elements of Journalism

Ch 7: Journalism as a Public Forum
-Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and comment.-

I could not believe the Cody Shearer and Chris Matthews’s story depicted in The Elements of Journalism, Chapter 7. It all goes back to the idea of fact checking and fairness to the public. Generally I am a fan of Hardball as well as Matthews but this incident was unbelievable coming from a professional on air journalist. It is understandable that he was trying to draw out and lead on Willey but he was only trying to get her to talk. He didn’t need to exclaim on national television that it was indeed Shearer that threatened her because that was what people came to believe. If someone says something on television and it is taken out of context it can be bad. Rush Limbaugh did not help matters either with his addition to the hype but then again look at where he has ended up.

Public opinion can be swayed in many ways and it is the job of the news media to act as a mediator or referee. I like that idea. Unless you are writing an opinion piece in a magazine or an editorial than this is the job you as a journalist are setting out to do. You are there to show both sides of a story even if you personally agree with one more than the other. I liked the example that Jerz brought up in class about the doubt that the man was committing self defense when he strangled a smaller woman in NY central park last week. The journalist doubted the story so he made a weight comparison between the man and woman to show she was non-threatening. He did not come out and say that this guy was a liar or a murderer but it was implied that he doubted the story.

I did not agree with the idea presented in this chapter about becoming a slave to technology. I think that more than ever before it is a tool for journalists but can get them into a lot of trouble if not used correctly. I personally hope to become part of an environment in my future vocation that is in fact technologically based journalism. I would love to be able to run an online newspaper page, edit, blog and even work on technical writing online for website design.

In regard to the ‘Argument Culture’ that is talked about in the latter part of the chapter I can totally see it’s appeal in more than these debate talk shows like Crossfire and Hardball. There has been such a mass response to Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones and Maury’s style of broadcasting that it is bound to find its way into the political and news media circle as well. The people get what they want. Apparently in this day and age conflict and ‘food fights’ (as mentioned in the book) are what the public wants to view. They would rather see squabbling and pseudo journalism than a real debate. But then again have you ever seen a serious political debate on television?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 9, 2005 5:07 PM.

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