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Forever
June 1st, 2011, 10:59 PM
Journalists are often criticized due to the way they go about their practises. Many say they intrude upon people's lives to "get a story". Need some examples? Think of recent natural disasters and consider how fast journalists got to those scenes, immediately interviewing distraught family members, and showing scenes of great suffering, something that doesn't necessarily come under information that the public needs to know, which generally the rule of thumb when deciding on what to report on.

Some journalists can still be considered "good", though. Through respecting the privacy of those that need it, as well as being ethical in their stories, they are able to shape the journalism industry in a positive manner, though there's still some who seem to do the opposite.

Also in uni we discussed the relation between journalism and PR (public relations) - and that some journalists take press releases and then copy most of the information into an actual article, meaning they take the credit for the work that those who work in PR do. This seems to be an increasing trend, too, based upon what we've learnt about. Is this fair? Should journalists use less press releases and instead do more research, or do you think they do enough research - actually, does this even matter to you?

As someone aiming to go into the journalism industry, it's disappointing to see things that journalists have been doing. Though, since I'm interested in TV journalism, the issue of PR x journalism will probably not be that much of an issue to me since TV journalists usually do those reports during the day and generally need to get material for viewing, so it's less likely they'll use press releases. But still, I think that the journalism industry needs to get a better reputation than it has now.

What are your thoughts?

How do you feel about journalists? Do you think they are intrusive? Can you trust them with your information, confident they won't twist it? Do you think the state of journalism could be better? Do you think it depends on the company they work for?

Esper
June 2nd, 2011, 08:52 AM
I think journalists ought to be independent, meaning that they should decide what to say and what to report. If they're just copying some PR statement they really aren't doing anything useful or important. They might even be doing some harm because some people might think the information they're getting is independent when it's just the views of whoever the story is about. Obviously no one is going to put out a PR statement that doesn't make them look good.

I was actually just thinking about this kind of thing this morning when I read about a UN report that talked about changing countries policies on drugs and how governments basically said "No, we reject their findings." I thought: no one is going to talk to these people are get them to explain why they disagree. They're just going to sit there are copy it down and leave. I know that a lot of what journalists are supposed to do is just report what's going on, but they have access and influence and they should use it to get more information out of people if it's important like when it comes to the government.

With something like disasters and human suffering I think it's kinda important to show that people are actually hurting because we might not really understand how bad it is otherwise. As for intruding on people's lives to do so... I dunno. I think it's a case by case thing. Can't really explain what I mean.

Oryx
June 2nd, 2011, 09:11 AM
I would trust the average journalist, because I would trust the average person, as long as they let me know what they were using my quote or whatever for. If they told me "I'm writing an article on how bad animal abuse is", I would trust that they wouldn't take my words and apply them to something different, or misquote me to say something else. I believe the average journalist doesn't have bad intentions.

I believe reporting on disasters, talking to families there is definitely important. For example, if no journalists had reported on Japan, would any of us have known enough to donate money? Some people probably only did because they saw the families crying on TV, and I have a strict "do whatever it takes to get people to give money/time" policy as far as those things go. XD Although there is a serious focus on tragedy at least on television, more than what's proportional to tragedies in real life.

I think the most grave issue with the journalism industry (is that the right word?) is spin on stories. It's hard to tell for some articles whether one person is just right and one wrong, or if there's some kind of spin, facts left out. For example, the other day my friend posted a news article and said "I want my money back, Uncle Sam!" it was about the US government spending hundreds of thousands of dollars buying shrimp treadmills, and how useless it is and a waste of money. I decided to look it up to see how legit the claims were, and found out that the money was for a study on bacteria that was randomly attacking shrimp, and they wanted to see if it could spread to humans. Reading it from that perspective, I could understand where the money went. But because of the spin of the original article, my friend was misled into thinking something else was going on. And of course, what if the article I read had a spin? The only time you can really trust a source is if it's in more than one place, which defeats the purpose of journalists getting a 'scoop'. :<

Forever
June 2nd, 2011, 05:43 PM
I think journalists ought to be independent, meaning that they should decide what to say and what to report. If they're just copying some PR statement they really aren't doing anything useful or important. They might even be doing some harm because some people might think the information they're getting is independent when it's just the views of whoever the story is about. Obviously no one is going to put out a PR statement that doesn't make them look good.

I was actually just thinking about this kind of thing this morning when I read about a UN report that talked about changing countries policies on drugs and how governments basically said "No, we reject their findings." I thought: no one is going to talk to these people are get them to explain why they disagree. They're just going to sit there are copy it down and leave. I know that a lot of what journalists are supposed to do is just report what's going on, but they have access and influence and they should use it to get more information out of people if it's important like when it comes to the government.

With something like disasters and human suffering I think it's kinda important to show that people are actually hurting because we might not really understand how bad it is otherwise. As for intruding on people's lives to do so... I dunno. I think it's a case by case thing. Can't really explain what I mean.

For the second part, I agree, there should have at least been some research into it. It's like, "oh hey here's a nice report let's steal it and claim it as our own". And I don't think that all they're meant to do is report, I think there's a greater role there, which is to convey all the facts, not just the ones the government wants to release. Plus, we learnt about the Freedom of Information Commission which basically allows journalists to get all that information easily - yet nobody makes use of it, which is stupid tbh. Just cause it may take a few extra hours, you could possibly generate more stories from that information anyway.

I would trust the average journalist, because I would trust the average person, as long as they let me know what they were using my quote or whatever for. If they told me "I'm writing an article on how bad animal abuse is", I would trust that they wouldn't take my words and apply them to something different, or misquote me to say something else. I believe the average journalist doesn't have bad intentions.

I believe reporting on disasters, talking to families there is definitely important. For example, if no journalists had reported on Japan, would any of us have known enough to donate money? Some people probably only did because they saw the families crying on TV, and I have a strict "do whatever it takes to get people to give money/time" policy as far as those things go. XD Although there is a serious focus on tragedy at least on television, more than what's proportional to tragedies in real life.

I think the most grave issue with the journalism industry (is that the right word?) is spin on stories. It's hard to tell for some articles whether one person is just right and one wrong, or if there's some kind of spin, facts left out. For example, the other day my friend posted a news article and said "I want my money back, Uncle Sam!" it was about the US government spending hundreds of thousands of dollars buying shrimp treadmills, and how useless it is and a waste of money. I decided to look it up to see how legit the claims were, and found out that the money was for a study on bacteria that was randomly attacking shrimp, and they wanted to see if it could spread to humans. Reading it from that perspective, I could understand where the money went. But because of the spin of the original article, my friend was misled into thinking something else was going on. And of course, what if the article I read had a spin? The only time you can really trust a source is if it's in more than one place, which defeats the purpose of journalists getting a 'scoop'. :<

Both of you had good points with the disasters part, but I'm thinking like, for example, Lady Gaga dies, 10 minutes later a journalist is interviewing their family, or something like that. Idk, it just seems that instant with celebrities anyway that they don't get that much of a chance to grieve. Cause really, with MJ's death, we found out like less than an hour later and I bet straight away a journalist went to interview the family. I mean, they barely have any time alone, and to themselves.

And yup, the right words. :3 I guess it depends on who it actually is - whether who you're getting the scoop from is someone who wants the information released for their benefit, etc. I guess you can kinda tell those people, but... I'd like to believe that most stories don't really have spin, plus, the ones that do... well, I can generally tell which ones they are when reading the newspaper. XD

Esper
June 3rd, 2011, 11:27 AM
Both of you had good points with the disasters part, but I'm thinking like, for example, Lady Gaga dies, 10 minutes later a journalist is interviewing their family, or something like that. Idk, it just seems that instant with celebrities anyway that they don't get that much of a chance to grieve. Cause really, with MJ's death, we found out like less than an hour later and I bet straight away a journalist went to interview the family. I mean, they barely have any time alone, and to themselves.
That's what I wanted to say but couldn't find the right words. If it's a private thing, like someone famous in your family dying, then people should step back a bit and give them some space so they can grieve and recover a little. If it's something big and widespread like a disaster, well, that is important news and I'd like to think a good journalist wouldn't hunt down the most distraught person they can find but would want to speak to someone who would be willing to speak to them in the first place.