Saturday, December 9, 2017

Transparency and the Modern Day Journalist

Sam Smith

Since the beginning of journalism, the core values have remained the same. Journalists must remain honest, truthful, and transparent. This being said, as time has gone on and technology developed, these core values are being presented through new, alternative outlets.

In their book the New Ethics of Journalism, editors Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel state that, “while acknowledging that getting the facts right remains journalism’s core function – and that includes trying to get at ‘the truth about the fact’, as the Hutchins Commission put it in 1947 – much of how we discern and articulate the truth is changing.”

Though the end results remain the same, the means of obtaining and interpreting those results has drastically changed. More voices, more materials, and more platforms are flooding the brain of the modern consumer. Before the 21st century just two channels, print and television, dominated news. Through these two channels money could be generated through advertising and independence was established.  Because news was generated from a distance, the public consumer rarely questioned the transparency of the news they were receiving. That has all changed.

Below is a video of Tom Rosenstiel’s Tedx Talk on the future of Journalism.

The New Truth

In today’s media landscape, the flow of communication flows so much more than one way. Instead of the consumer simply receiving and interpreting news, new outlets allow for the consumer to easily question the information they are receiving. Social media, forums, and the overall digital movement has made for a more open interpretation of news information by the general public. This adaptation has put more pressure on independent news organizations to emphasize the transparency of their news. The sources they use, information they publish, and evidence included in reporting can all be questioned immediately. Credibility has become a cornerstone of the public’s demand for their news.

Is This Good or Bad?

Deciding if this new stage of journalism is positive or negative is an opinionated question, but evidence suggests that this movement is one of progression. As previously stated, the foundation of journalism was to administer the truth in an honest and transparent manner to the public. Through these new forms of communication, the public has garnered more power as critics of the news they receive.

The modern public is no longer just on the receiving end of their news. Now, they are a part of it. New platforms of communication have made for an entire new community filled with reporters and the public. Social media allows the public to question, comment, share, and explore the news they receive immediately. This new community aspect, if utilized correctly, can help to create a positive relationship between reporters and the public.

What Should Journalists Do?

The modern day journalist should have one main priority in response to this new era of reporting. Transparency. Transparency is the utmost of importance when serving the truth to this new public. It is important for journalists to put themselves in the shoes of the public they are serving, question themselves, and seek out every opportunity possible they can to be transparent with the public.

For more of Rosenstiel’s thoughts on the future of journalism, feel free to read his Washington Post article “Five myths about the future of journalism”

1 comment:

  1. When talking about the core values of journalist we have to consider that for decades journalism in both print and media was controlled by a small group of people. This allowed for that group to not only define the core values but to have greater control of them. Now, anyone with a computer or a phone can be a journalist, and with such a large and diverse group of people now reporting the news it is much harder to enforce and control those values. That does not mean that those would-be reports should not be held to a set a standards when putting out news reports. Transparency is a key element in establishing a set of standards but journalist should also have a generous amount of integrity. Johannesen writes, "a person of integrity takes time to deliberate about the right thing to do, actually does the right thing despite personal hardships, and be willing to explain what was done and justify it" (2008). Essentially, journalist who lack integrity will not be open to the idea of transparency. Journalist should not only be able to put the publics shoes on, but they should also be able to stand up in front of the public and say that they are serving the public with integrity. The biggest issue that we have no way of enforcing or monitoring journalist outside of the traditional new sources of print and television for integrity or transparency. The new platforms created by technology does allow for more public interactions, but that keep journalist from creating crossing line that can be considered unethical.

    Johannesen, R., Valde, K., & Whedbee, K. (2008) Ethics in Human Communication (6th ed.) Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.