“What used to be called journalism is now only part of the mix, and it’s role as intermediary and verifier, like the roles of other civic institutions is a relatively smaller and thus weaker influence as a whole.” [ Kovach and Rosensteil]
Before hosting and producing BXTRA, I freelanced for a local newspaper serving the North Bronx community called the Norwood News. On a typical day, I would leave my house, stand on a medium-long line at Dunkin Donuts and take the train that would lead me to my next eight-hours of unpredictability. On average, I would conduct a couple of interviews either in-person or over the phone and proceed to type out a 750-word story for 40,000 readers I’ll probably never meet. My day was no different than the many independent content creators who contribute to our society today. In fact, these creators probably produced content with better readership, a bigger following, and a greater paycheck…and yet, I still chose to be a journalist.
As technology keeps progressing with time, the purpose of journalism seems to be digressing. Now, more than ever before, individuals have the access to conduct their own research and display their own views of the world through different mediums of media. Look no further than cell phones; chances are, owners have access to a camera and social media…tools that allow just about anybody to report on anything at any given time. Websites such as WordPress and YouTube allow bloggers, vloggers, and ordinary web users to build an audience around the content they produce. Today, people no longer have to solely rely on news networks or publications to receive information anymore. In that case, what’s the purpose of a journalist?
In the words of notable journalists’ Kovach and Rosensteil : ” The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.” Therefore, the role of a journalist may have evolved with time and technology; however, the purpose remains and will continue to remain stagnant. Today, journalists must find the balance between maintaining the ethical foundations of journalism and come up with innovative ways to utilize advanced resources to engage with their audience…a task that is more complex than it sounds. Before a reporter types an article and before an anchor goes on air, they have several tasks to perform :
- Fact-checking- verifying all information is true and current. Keep in mind, just because information can spread like wildfire in a matter of seconds…so can misinformation.
- Contextualizing- Taking sources such as articles from other publications, photos, videos, and clips from social media and making it into one cohesive package.
- Bearing witness- observe the unveiling event/s at a particular time or location.
- Questioning- In order to get a full understanding of what’s being covered, a journalist must be prepared to delve deep and ask not only appropriate questions, but also, questions that are outside of the box. Stories can take different angles, it’s important to have informative content and content that stands out from other news sources.
We are living in an era where it seems like the news is being questioned. Having skepticism towards journalists is being encouraged. In order to secure a free press and hold a self-governing nation, we must have journalists who use modern advances to advocate for society, monitor power, mend the gap of trust, and stand ready to protect a free press and democracy. I stand ready to be a soldier of truth.
With that said, bloggers and other content creators are crucial in media. Journalists are more than likely restricted to either a word count or a time limit on air. Therefore, journalists may not be able to cover what a blogger or vlogger can. Independent content creators can fill in the holes that a reporter may have failed to cover when working on a particular piece. Regardless, all media contributors, despite the platform, should be encouraged so long as the content being produced is true and accurate.