Sunday, September 28, 2008

Journalism's raison d’être in society

Technology has allowed the rise of blogging and citizen journalism, and at the same time, helped produce the current 24/7 news cycle and multimedia journalism practice among media organizations. News gathering has become increasingly complex as well, offering challenges to journalists in covering events and issues. As citizens shift to the online medium both to consume and produce information, decreasing circulation figures and ratings have sparked fears of the demise of the media as we know it.

In these interesting times, journalists should review the values of the profession--why we are here in the first place. What is journalism's function and purpose in society? What are the obligations and responsibilities of journalists?

Citizens too have rights and responsibilities when it comes to news; rights and responsibilities which have become specially pronounced since the advent of blogging and citizen journalism.

Written by respected American journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, comprehensively discusses the essential elements that define journalism and the role of press in society. It also discusses the role of citizens in newsmaking in the Internet age.

"The Elements of Journalism delineates the core principles shared by journalists across media, even across cultures. These principles flow from the essential function news plays in people's lives," the Committee of Concerned Journalists said. A new edition, published April 2007, includes a 10th principle: the rights and responsibilities of citizens. This 10 principles flows from the "new power conveyed by technology to the citizen as a consumer and editor of their own news and information."

What are the Elements of Journalism?
From The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect
Source: Committee of Concerned Journalists

1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.

2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.

3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.

4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.

6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.

7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.

8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.

9. Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience.

10. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.

The book's introduction, which explains how the book got started, can be read here.

Debbie Uy, a colleague and MA classmate who currently serves as readers' advocate of the Davao-based Mindanao Insider, discussed these elements in two successive column pieces. (First part here, second here).

Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), also discussed the values Kovach and Rosenstiel discussed in the book for the April 2008 issue of the PJR Reports (which I wrote about earlier). In covering the current political crisis in the Philippines, she wrote, a review of basic principles may help clarify the role of the press. Since the CMFR site is currently undergoing some platform and design changes, I suggest you read Ma'am Melinda's piece in this cached page here.

I am also planning to write more about the elements of journalism in future posts. For now, let me just agree with Roy Peter Clark of The Poynter Institute when he said this about Kovach and Rosenstiel's book: "The most important book on the relationship of journalism and democracy published in the last fifty years."


Debbie Uy said...

Thanks for the links, Bry :)

joseph israel laban said...

i read this too. wow. coincidence...

bryant said...

@ debbie

No problem. :)

@ joseph

haha. I wouldn't be surprised if we have read the same books, or at least many of them.

Anonymous said...

nice, give my regards to debbie uy who is madly in love with mr. willy rodolfo...peace..i'm here debbie.i like you:)


Blog directory