Journalism entails reporting on ongoing and emergent events through the gathering of information and presenting it in the most appropriate way to the public. Journalists range from reporters, video, or photojournalists to writers, and each uses a particular medium to come up with stories that engage the public and relay important information. The critical part of a journalist is identifying a topic important to the public, from covering the trending events to presidential election reporting, and finally generating a story that is well-researched based on the topics. The journey of a journalist is not a smooth one that involves getting information and reporting, but requires commitment since long hours, high competition, and the constant shift of media landscape is involved. This paper discusses the main aspects of news reporting and journalism, which I learned through the course, and highlights challenges and lessons learned through practice and the media.
The news writing process is challenging and exciting at the same time. It is surprising how, just like other processes such as dressing, it requires logical steps and a pattern. The success of the process requires the writer to focus, order, draft, and revise. The first step involves the gathering of information. This is the step that consists of collecting details to include in the report. The details should be facts, hence well researched. The second step involved deciding what to focus on from the gathered facts. The focus contains the dominant idea. This part was quite challenging in choosing the sentence to summarize the whole story and make a headline. The third step was weighing facts in order to place them logically with the most important at the top. This is the step that gives each story a plan, as each point must grow to the next so as to make the reading flow and enjoyable to the reader. After writing the story to the end, the next step involved rereading and editing until what is in the paper is what was intended.
Gathering information was the most challenging part of the writing process. The three primary methods used here include interviewing, observing, and researching. The primary method used in our news process was interviewing and involved asking questions about the story. It was, therefore, the key to the story. This required an excellent ability to interact, talk to people, and collect information. Before embarking on the interviewing mission, I had to think about how to open the interviewing session, since I learned that the opening statement marks an integral part of the interview. A lousy beginning could end an interview before starting it like it once happened when an interviewer asked Vivian Leign the part she acted in the movie Gone With the Wind (Mclntyre, 2017). Preparation was, therefore, essential to come up with relevant questions and signal the other party that I was not to be easily dismissed.
In addition, a tentative theme was worth researching and finding how it could fit in the story I was writing, as well as asking the questions most naturally. Through a journal article, I came across while doing research, and I learned that one needs to create a natural relationship with the interviewee at the start of the interview in order to kick start it. For instance, the interview Liebling held with Arcaro, and he began by asking him why his left stirrup was longer than his right (Hatfield, 2006). An important aspect I learned was that interviewing not only involved questions and answers but a keen observation of the other party’s distinctive characteristics, body language, mannerisms, and facial expressions, which significantly contribute to recording what may not be said, hence painting a worthy story for readers.
News reporting may, at times, involve topics and stories that may raise ethical concerns. Some of the challenges that I faced and other journalists I observed in the media face too include finding the most responsible way to report on topics of intolerance and hate speech, ethics behind viral photograph i.e., death and violence publishing, and handling sources of news and verifying news from online sources. Censoring speech is offensive, and most journalists face challenges in distinguishing controversial statements from statements that invoke violence (Cramer and McDevitt, 2004). Sometimes reporting may involve issues of conflict and crisis that include photographs going viral in the online platforms and pose the challenge of whether to include essential information like photographer identity and other missing information. Gathering news and obtaining the most authentic requires careful consideration, especially establishing a relationship with the source. Some interviews may involve vulnerable persons like victims of war or young people, who need journalists to make them understand the results of publishing the information they provide. With the growing technology, verifying news and images from the media has become quite tricky. Currently, images are being photoshopped and require researching and contacting the source of the content making the whole process involving.
Journalists have the ethical responsibility of being balanced and fair in their reporting. In the context of journalism, balance means that the reporter has the responsibility of being objective in spite of their own opinions, and should remain impartial on a matter by offering a mixed view. This requires one to make mixed viewpoints that allow the reader to make their selection, hence balancing the story by avoiding swaying the public towards an inevitable conclusion. On the other hand, objectivity aims at assisting the readers in deciding about an account through the facts a reporter provides.
Generally, what differentiates a good journalist from a mediocre one is the means in which news is gathered and presented to the public. Topics chosen should make headlines, and summarize the story most simply and naturally. Interviewing is among the significant ways of gathering information, and requires the reporter to be competent in interacting with the other party source the information. Through experience and the media, I have learned that most journalists face problems in authenticating the information they get either from online platforms or from other sources. Also, most journalism students and practicing reporters face difficulties in balancing and being objective in their reporting, hence making the whole idea of balancing in journalism context complex.
- Cramer, J. and McDevitt, M. (2004). Ethnographic journalism. Qualitative research in journalism: taking it to the streets, 127-144
- Hatfield, D. (2006). Press Play: Designing an epistemic game engine for journalism. Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Learning sciences, 236-242
- Mclntyre, K. and Gyldensted, C. (2017). Constructive journalism: An introduction and practical guide for applying positive psychology techniques to news production. The journal of media innovations, 4 (2), 20-34