Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Things You Can Learn From Kathleen Carroll

Sarah Kenney

Being a video production student as well as a journalism major, I can honestly say that print media has been a struggle of mine. Editing footage came more naturally to me than composing appealing articles so I started to disconnect myself from the print world, until Kathleen Carroll came to town and gave me the knock in the head I needed.

After seeing her speak at Ohio University while accepting the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism's highest award, I realized that journalists are a community no matter what they concentrate in, and we share common beliefs that made me proud to be a member of this community. What she shared not only has changed my outlook on the media community but has helped to shape my code of ethics as a journalist. Three sections of her speech stood out to me: how to be a watchdog, accountability and diversity in journalism. These are arguably the three most influential aspects of journalism today, and to hear Kathleen Carroll touch on them only made me more sure of my beliefs in them.

1.) How to be a watchdog

To hear this be a topic of discussion tonight was interesting considering it was the topic of my first blog post. Finally I was able to grasp the full context of what it means to be a Watch-Dog. How? That is the question. Reporters need to be asking how constantly. That simple question should be put on a pedestal that reporters should be reaching for with every piece of work they do. As Carroll explained, people crave the how, and if answered it can be the greatest accomplishment a journalist can achieve. How could it have been prevented? How is it solving the problem? How well is what we are doing working? These are all questions that can make all the difference in the content you present to your audience and if done correctly can add to your credibility as a news source.

2.) Accountability should not only be for your audience, but also yourself

Accountability is a constant subject of debate in the world of media today, with so many reports coming out with false facts based on speculation, unreliable sources or misinterpretation of facts. What Carroll brought to the table was the idea that reporters are under pressure to build content, and that reporters during a breaking news situation will go off of what is true at that moment. She used the example of the navy-yard shooting. It was believed that there could be other shooters, but it was known that one of them was dead. It had been reported by the Washington D.C. Police Chief, Cathy Lanier, that they were investigating two other potential suspects in the shooting. This sparked ideas that this could have been a planned shooting or potential national security threat. Later we learned that there was only one shooter.
Washington D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier briefs press regarding 2 other potential shooters at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard.

Carroll explained that reporters were working based off of the information they had been provided at the time and built content based off of that to fill the need of providing information for the public. While many scrutinize this as a lack of accountability, Carroll encouraged us to be rigorous in news gathering and ask the how questions. Be accountable to your audience and also to yourself, because the mistakes, as she said, your audience will remember for years.  

3.) Newsrooms need to reflect the diversity of their consumers

When a female audience member asked the question regarding diversity and women in the newsrooms, Carroll answered very frankly that we have a long way to go with diversity. “Newsrooms need to reflect the consumer we represent” she explained. While she said she never wanted to be “the girl editor” she also went on to say that there are not enough women in power for it to not seem unusual anymore. Hearing this only made me more determined as a growing, female professional. If this comment does not make you determined I don’t know what will. I believe that this generation of women journalists have the power and determination to change this and not only diversify the workplace with different genders but also include other races and cultures into the newsroom.

Kathleen Carroll is a woman who I now look up to as an excellent role model in the world of journalism. To see these three ideas I have learned in class actually be applied by a real world journalist has only solidified my belief in them even more. She certainly gave me the realization I needed, and I could not be more determined to not just be focused on my sole area of concentration but to be a proactive member of this community.

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