Why Journalism?

Dear Students:

Why did you choose journalism? Along with the lessons about writing, reporting, and editing I genuinely want you to answer this question. It is not an easy career, it changes rapidly, and there really is no such thing as job security. So why journalism?

“Fake News” is a term heard and seen daily. What does it really mean to you? Will it have an impact on how you do your job? Are you ready to enter a career that appears under attack? What will you do differently?

During the summer I co-taught a 3-week intensive program for high school students. It was shocking to hear how much mistrust they when it came to the news media. “Everyone is lying,” was a phrase often spoken by these well educated young students. So I asked in return, “why journalism?”.

Gone are the days when mass media was all on the same page. You chose a network for news, read the local paper, and the stories were there. It was a common ground across America. We all worked from a similar set of facts and stories. Today that has changed, people tailor their news to fit their lifestyle, there is no common ground. So what will you do as a journalist to inform your specific audience?

The students this summer talked about a lack of balance in the media, “everyone leans left or right,” was the comment. Is that indeed the case? What can you do to restore faith in the media? Several students cited transparency, adding each media outlet should admit to the bias and let the reader or viewer decide for themselves. It was a worthy discussion.

What is the role of journalism in today’s society? Is it to tell the truth? Inform society as a whole?  I think the more important question is, what do you see the role of journalism in the future?

So why did you choose journalism? I look forward to helping you find the answers.

Sincerely,

Angela Anderson Connolly

Affiliated Faculty Member/Journalism

Emerson College

Let the Sun Shine In

Sunshine Week is Over

This past week was “Sunshine Week” in hindsight I wish I had written about this sooner so more people would be aware, and possibly attend local events. The week, put together by ASNE and the Reporters Committee highlights the need to free and public access to public information. The organization has put together a lot of articles and resources to help you learn more.

Sunshine Week Website

There were events around the nation to talk about access to information, and articles are written not only specifically for the event, but also by local newspapers about attempting to gain access to information.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/sunshine-week-animal-cruelty-records-8651597

You may think Sunshine Week was designed for reporters only, that is a misconception. We all have the right to access information from our government. Public disclosure of information is vital to democracy.  There is a lot of information at your fingertips in government databases, but that is changing.

Several articles during Sunshine Week focused on the Trump Administration’s removal of once publically available information. For example, you cannot longer go to a website and see who has visited the White House. The Obama Administration had a link where you could check the guest book.  President Trump’s staff has said they will make that information public on a regular basis when it is ready for release.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/disclosures/visitor-records

There has been other information removed from public web page’s that include data about animal cruelty and climate change. This has prompted groups of people to come together and take part in what are being called “data rescue events.” The groups select federal data they believe is at risk of being removed from websites and downloads the information to private servers to ensure the information will not get lost.

http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/trumps-actions-raise-fears-about-access-to-government-data/

Every administration makes changed to government websites and alters content. This was no surprise. However, journalists and freedom of information advocates fear how far the Trump administration will go. As journalists we strive for transparency, shouldn’t we hold our elected officials to the same standards?  Right to Know laws and Freedom of Information Act requests are not just for journalists. You can help hold elected officials accountable. I know next year I will become more involved with local events, I hope you will too.