Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Transparency Is Normal

Cullen Quigley

Newsrooms and journalists are not introducing anything new by being transparent; they're just catching up to today's new social norms. Transparency is expected because every aspect of our lives can be public, so why wouldn't we expect our news to be the same?

"Local School Board"
Adam Zyglis - The Buffalo News (Western NY)

20th Century vs. Today

It's ridiculous to compare journalistic transparency approaches from the 20th century to present day because the audience and technology are quite different. Today's world is so public that it's against the norm to remain private in most aspects of our lives, especially the news. Also, today's media is not strictly set to only broadcast and print communication.

As written by the authors in Part 2 of "Learning The Transparency Habit", it discusses how 20th century reporters and newsrooms were in uncharted territory trying to navigate what the public should or should not know.

The idea that saying too much can "invite suspicion." yet saying too little would let the work "speak for itself" completely undermined what the audience's capacity for curiosity and desire for answers would be.

These shortcomings would soon be answered in the 21st century as social media, the Internet, and a massive collection of instant content would be available at our fingertips 24 hours a day.

Today, anything can be Googled, anything can be challenged via social media, and journalists are no longer the only voice in releasing information on multiple platforms (whether that information be factual or not).

Journalists of today are fighting to seem the most normal, because an audience won't second guess information coming from a source they feel that they know. This is the root of transparency.

A-List Expectations

People today have been conditioned to be as transparent as possible and expect transparency because our idols through celebrities, public figures, and athletes use their platforms to let the public into every aspect of their lives. We are molded to be transparent like them, whether we realize it or not.

The use of celebrity is what creates the norms in the public which journalists are required to adapt to. Journalists let the public into a story like a celebrity lets the public into their personal life.

Journalists today can provide tweets, snap-chats, Facebook posts, photos, videos, blog posts, YouTube vlogs, etc., all to support their information to prove their accuracy and credibility. The content they produce can be fact checked and tailored to be open for public scrutiny to reinforce the highest standard of that specific journalist or news organization.

Though many people hate mixing "entertainment" with "news," it's important to note that a journalist must still be truthful and transparent in their stories, even with the temptation to exploit subjects in a tabloid-like fashion. This reinforces the 20th century core value of minimizing harm.

And to say it again, to minimize harm, a journalist should remain transparent. See the full circle?


The line, "The news has never belonged to the public." is so true because, as the readings note, journalism is always changing and adapting to remain more credible. The audience holds the power.

Though transparency has come to the forefront of all necessary journalistic measures, one must still understand that just because something is transparent, doesn't mean it is accurate or just.

The audience of today is not more nosey than previous generations; the previous generations were just in a different era of transparency that has evolved to what we know it as today.

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