A Valentine to Journalism

This post goes out to my dear friends from the UNSA Journal Committee and all the other news-addicts who look beyond the pages of their morning paper.

Through some twist of fate, I discovered a whole lot of inspiring, media-related resources lately. “Morning Miracle” by Dave Kindred, for example, is a compelling narrative of how one of America’s greates newspapers fights for its life and a powerful argument for the value of “sophisticated and fearless accountability reporting” (New York Times Book Review). Instead of writing a “valentine to journalism”, as he had initially planned, Kindred quickly discovered that his book would be much more profound than that. Looking at dropping circulation rate, reduced advertisement sale and a seemingly doomed industry of print-media, he accepted the fact that his book would be about “a great newspaper dying with dignity”.

Just like the two media courses I’m taking at the moment, reading about the world of news is of course very different from working in the field and actually producing news. Reporters and journalists have to be out there, uncovering scandals and digging out the hidden truth. A prime example for this is the Watergate Scandal that has been disclosed by two of the most famous reporters of the Washington Post. (see here for the related movie “All the President’s Men” from 1976).

However, as you are all aware, there are a number of other jobs that deal with the press, news and media. If you’ve been wondering for example, how the work of a press secretary looks like, I recommend you to watch this episode of The West Wing

So what exactly is it, that news media are telling us? Is is “all the news that’s fit to print” as the New York Times argues? Is it “that’s the way it is” as CBS’ Walter Cronkite always wanted to make us believe? All profit-driven media try to serve two masters, or stakeholders if you want to employ some business-lingo.

While they herald impartiality and objective truth, they also vie for a larger audience to increase advertisement revenues. It’s the old “public sphere vs. market model” game (Croteau & Hoynes, “The Business of Media“) and although the new trends of alternative media and participatory journalism certainly offer a more inclusive perspective, for most of the conventional news outlets, the gap between market and public sphere remains as open as ever.

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