Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The right intentions

I really don't have much time to post, since I have to get up before the sun to make it to Mr. Fisher's class, but I feel the need to post anyway.
I am a political science minor, and politics and journalism come up a lot in class. In one of my classes, I have learned that for every minute of clips of statements from politicians, there are about six minutes of commentary from journalists on what the polititian said.
If I have learned anything this semester, it is that journalists just leave a bad taste in many people's mouths. It doesn't matter what field you are reporting from, being a journalist carries a stigma, and right now it isn't really a good one.
I have known since 8th grade that I wanted to be a journalist. I don't think those that go into the field to meet famous people or to become famous themselves necessarily have the right intentions. But I know, as I have written before, as a journalist it is your responsibility to report the truth to the public. You have the opportunity to shake things up, hold leaders accountable and make changes possible.
Since I work for the scholastic press office, I recently went to my old high school to do some PR work for our upcoming convention. It amazed me that the newspaper only had two pages of hard news, the rest were features and sports. This is okay, but are you really doing your readers any justice by having a health and fitness spread when there are more serious issues going on in the school district? I know that this specific example doesn't apply everywhere, but as a journalist you should be aware of what affects your readers. Tell them why they need to know about issues in the community, how it could affect them and why they should take interest.
For softer news, though, the approach might be a little different. My roommate wants to be a music journalist. But it isn't so she can meet the bands and get free CDs. She really cares about music and its affect on people. I think letting the public know about music, books, movies and basically anything going on in our culture around us needs to be exposed to the public. For instance, the Nickelodeon theater in town is hosting a Latin film festival. Reporting about this exposes the community to different cultures while doing something they love. And if there isn't some entertainment mixed in with all the hard news, the audience will either get bored or uninterested. Everything can't always be in-your-face zoning meetings, school board elections and crime reports.
A newspaper or broadcast should be well-rounded, and yes, it will have entertainment and sports. It is this way because America is like this; they watch the news, catch up on what celebrity married their camera man, catch the sports scores and then fall aslep with the seven day forecast. If your publication isn't diverse, and you don't expect it to be diverse, then I think you miss out on the big picture, and you will lose your audience. I like politics and that is what I want to report on, but I don't expect everyone to do what I want to do. I think that is what makes journalism so great, you can specialize in something that really interests you and be able to write about those issues going on around you that pertain to your interests. It keeps you fresh and liking your job and it keeps your writing from getting stale so people won't quit reading.

I don't know if any of this really makes sense, and I feel like I am rambling. I just know that your intentions before going into the field should be in the right place, and if they are, then I think as a journalist you will do well.



Blogger Jenni said...

"My roommate wants to be a music journalist. But it isn't so she can meet the bands and get free CDs. She really cares about music and its affect on people."

thank you julia. i just don't think some people understand. people that get into this business just to meet famous people are in it for the wrong reasons. which i really don't understand at all because celebrities are just like anybody else. haha. i guess i just don't get what the hoopla is all about. i mean i've talked to people who are in the public eye and it's really not that big of a deal. anyway, thanks for your post.


10:13 AM  

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