Thursday, February 4, 2010

Loyalty & Journalism

Who do journalists work for? According to our text The Elements of Journalism, “The bonuses of newsroom executives today are based in large part on how much profit their companies make” (51). Reality is journalism is a business that has responsibilities for keeping budgets and attracting customers. And sometimes, that business gets in the way of seeking the truth. Journalism’s first loyalty is to the citizens. We report to and for the public. That is part of the job description. We seek the truth to inform. “It is the implied covenant with the public, which tells the audiences that the movie reviews are straight, that the restaurant reviews are not influenced by who buys an ad, that the coverage is not self-interested or slanted for friends” (52). I could not agree more with this idea.

In class, we talked about a huge wall dividing the business side and the news side at stations. Ideally, news and business should be separated like church and state. (Hahaha kind of ironic that Broadcast Journalism is my Major and Business Management my Minor)! The business side is solely dedicated to producing revenues whereas the news side should be devoted to fair journalism. However, what if the CEO of a company who pays the station for advertising gets arrested for illegal activity? Does the station run the story? If it’s newsworthy, yes. Just because the company is likely to withdraw its advertising does not mean it should be forgotten about. One person commented in class how journalism will rarely corrupt business, business would corrupt journalism. For examples click here.

So when it comes down to it are we going to abandon objectivity for monetary compensations. I would hope not. I believe fairness and truth starts one journalist, one news station at a time.

Something else to think about: will the decline of local news lead to corruption in public institutions? The media is the watch dog and without curious journalists some stories will not be found.

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