Friday, January 13, 2017

Journalism 01 - What is journalism?

Concurrent with my series on Tax I have been working on series on Journalism. Frankly, this work on Journalism began back in 2010 while working on Subverting Capitalism and Democracy. It was taken further by discussions with former editors, journalist and others who complained about lack of business models. The series will analyse the Journalism part and we will generate some ideas on how a new business model can be built for journalism.

A good place to start the series is to ask What is Journalism? The reason I ask this question is two-fold. I want to know what is journalism in the context of it being the pillar of democracy. And I want to know how journalism is different from other things - media, reporting of mere facts, etc.

Let us first look at dictionary meaning of Journalism

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Definition of journalism
a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media
b : the public press
c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium
a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine
b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation
c : writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

"Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities."
"That value flows from its purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions, and its practices, the most important of which is a systematic process – a discipline of verification – that journalists use to find not just the facts, but also the “truth about the facts.”

API also has a distilled list of elements of Journalism from the book The Elements of Journalism, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel:
  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
  7. It must strive to keep the significant interesting and relevant
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience
  10. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news
You must read the detail as they explain it well. But some of the insightful comments I am highlighting here.
Journalistic independence, write Kovach and Rosenstiel, is not neutrality. On one level, it means not becoming seduced by sources, intimidated by power, or compromised by self-interest. On a deeper level it speaks to an independence of spirit and an open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity that helps the journalist see beyond his or her own class or economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, gender or ego.
The publisher of journalism must show an ultimate allegiance to citizens. 
This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, subject to further investigation.
The earliest journalists firmly established as a core principle their responsibility to examine unseen corners of society. 
Watching over the powerful few in society on behalf of the many to guard against tyranny   
Journalism should also attempt to fairly represent varied viewpoints and interests in society and to place them in context rather than highlight only the conflicting fringes of debate. 
Journalists must continually ask what information has the most value to citizens and in what form people are most likely to assimilate it. While journalism should reach beyond such topics as government and public safety, journalism overwhelmed by trivia and false significance trivializes civic dialogue and ultimately public policy.

The blog series will be quite unstructured. Me being a scanner keep jumping from idea to idea. But I will persevere with it. I have been at it since 2010 so nothing new. But expect waxing and waning.