What’s Proper Journalism?

Feel free to contact me at SoutHolland@gmail.com

Not every news source is dedicated to unbiased and legitimate reporting. Many fail to create a dividing line separating opinion from news. Often you’ll end up reading (or listening and watching) reports that appear to be news, yet are opinion. For the record, all of my pieces are OPINION unless I say otherwise. I’ll use fact to support my arguments, but my arguments will be my OPINION.

 

This is happening more often as people are getting more of their news from social media, instead of from legitimate sources like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. There’s a lot of danger in this, because reporting shapes public opinion. Media outlets have one shot to get a story right (even if they put a retraction through their medium), and often times they will report them incorrectly. This is a result of the 24 hour news cycle.

 

As a student of journalism, I am going to help you not fall into this trap.

 

Journalism (and reporting) originates from these two ideas:

The Right of People to know

A Free and Open marketplace of Ideas

 

There are six elements of journalism (anybody you read should be practicing all of these):

Obligation to the truth

First Loyalty is to its CITIZENS

Independent monitor of power

Practice Verification in their news

Maintaining their independence from those they cover

Forum for public criticism and compromise

 

Sources are key to journalism. There’s a process of vetting news stories, and their reliability based on their sources:

At my College we create an acronym from the phrase I’M VAIN.

 

Independent- Is the source independent from the story, or do they have a stake on either side?

John the construction worker is NOT an independent source in the Construction Worker Union vs. New York case. He has a stake.

 

Multiple- Does the article state multiple sources, or do they just use one?

Good articles will use multiple sources

 

Verify- Is the source adding any factual information that will verify the something in the article?

The representative from the Census said that more than one in five children lived in poverty in the US in 2010 (SIDE NOTE: This is a true stat from the Census. Click here)

 

Authoritative- Does the source have any public authority?

An elected official is considered an authoritative source.

 

Informed- Is the source informed on the situation?

John the construction worker is an informed source in the Construction Worker Union vs. New York case, because he has stake. Still an authoritative, verified, and independent source will typically outrank an informed source in reliability.

 

Named-Is the source named?

Named sources always outrank unnamed ones. John the construction worker outranks “the construction worker at yesterday’s protest.” This is true in every case except when the person commenting is an unnamed representative from an authoritative source.

 

 

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