After reading Chapter 1 of The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel and watching the presentation from Group 1, I learned a great deal about the definition and the purpose of journalism. It is more than just journalists going to different places to report back what they saw. These ideas will help shape my opinion about journalism throughout the remaining of this class.
What is journalism? This question rather seems easy to be answered. If we look up in dictionaries, we can easily find what journalism means. According to Dictionary.com, journalism is “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business”. In fact, journalism offers much more than that. Its main purpose is to give citizens information so they can be free and self-governing. Therefore, journalism has a strong connection with democracy. People anywhere in the world have the rights to know what is going on around them, so the role of journalism is to provide them with information. Any attempt to restrict journalism affects the freedom of democracy. Such actions will eventually lead to people protesting or even rebelling against the government, just like what the Poles in Gdansk did. So journalism should be free of restriction, according to the statement in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.”
With these purposes of journalism, who can be defined as ‘journalists’? In earlier times, they are people who studied mass communications in college and worked for news agencies or TV stations. But now, with the fast improvement of technology, the term ‘journalist’ is not limited to those people anymore. Anyone can actively participate in the process of providing information, therefore becoming ‘citizen journalists’. Through blog posts, comments or social networks, they can freely express their thoughts about what happens in this world. This brings up a problem for journalism, that is, whether the information provided is credible and unbiased. The community may become confused with that variety of news sources. The role of true journalists is to give the public the most accurate facts. They should do their best in putting the news in order to avoid confusion among the audience. According to Howard Owens in his article Six roles, or job duties, of modern journalism, journalists should also provide their audiences with pointers to the most interesting and entertaining news. This can help draw the audiences’ attention to fields outside of their original interests, thus bring more people to the news website or publication.
To sum up, journalism means the freedom to report, write, broadcast or any other way of providing information to the public. The role of a journalist is to strive for the most precise news to inform the audience, so they can have a more accurate view of the world around them.