Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today's Changing Principles

Jordan Simmons

A sense of community and a separate category for being transparent are two new concepts that today’s journalists must be conscious of in their everyday reporting. Transparency already exists to justify credibility, yet today it is set in its own category.  Journalists must engage the community by making an ongoing effort to understand the needs that we seek to serve.

One of a journalist’s main responsibilities that cannot be overlooked is engaging the community. We have a task that operates 24-7, and that is to create the best mechanisms we see fit in order to allow members of our community to communicate with the media itself as well as one another. A part of being responsible for the media goes hand in hand with being responsible for the means of communication. 

Credibility of the media is something that is unfortunately dwindling in the eyes of many citizens. I hear people in my family critique today’s journalism and once heard someone say that “there will never be another Edward Murrow.” Although that comment is very drastic and uses the absolute term never, it is something that is at least in the process of being fixed. 

Being transparent now has its own category in the "New Guiding Principles for a New Era of Journalism" because it reminds journalists to show how the reporting was done and why people should believe it. We must explain our sources, our evidence, and we must explain why we made the choices that we made. If we make intellectual honesty and humility our guides, we will become much more efficient assets to the every day citizen’s trust in reporting.

Seeking the truth must never be taken easy. Seeking the truth should never end in today’s reporting because with today’s new waves of modernity and social change for equality it may be harder than ever to trust sources.

It is important to be courageous as a journalist and to challenge our sources repeatedly.  The word challenge should be stressed, because I believe seeking the truth is a constant challenge that us journalists must embrace and not overlook. 

In addition to seeking the truth, a major part of that is giving voice to the voiceless. We must persistently seek to document the unseen and carefully choose the stories that are for the betterment of the community. We must benefit the community. We must be accountable in what we choose to expose to the media and give them stories that they really need to hear. 

While these new concepts are extremely important for successful reporting in today’s society, our basic values have remained the same. The list of these principles in the 1990s would have included seeking the truth, acting independently and minimizing harm. 

Seeking truth is still the greatest value as it is a primary function of journalism. Where independence was once the main category, now we aim for transparency because it demands that the public see how the journalism of the future is produced and calls for openness that encourages constant conversation between journalists and the citizens, as well as the newsroom and the community.

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