As a journalism student, I was required to take media law and media history classes. While my classmates and I were dazzled at the impressive stories reported and the lies that were uncovered, it made me wonder why are these lessons were so difficult to find in today’s journalism practices?
I understand that things never stay the same for long and there will always be updates, improvements, and new styles that come about but shouldn’t the fundamentals remain in-tact with the values of the practice?
I don’t know many of my fellow reporters who have ever wanted to write a lengthy investigative piece that would require them to snoop beyond what the Internet can readily provide them. Instead, to write a complete story, one must venture into the library stacks or historical archives to find the background that they are looking for. But that’s too much work to expect students to do, isn’t it? But doesn’t that then create this misconception that will be difficult to break once that student becomes a professional?
Journalism has never been a field overflowing with money for its reporters and photographers. It has been a profession for the passionate. It has been a profession for the dedicated. It has been a profession for the truth-seekers. It has been a profession for the people.
Now with the complication of technology, growth of social media users, and citizen reporters, journalism as it used to be is not good enough. There isn’t enough money to pay the interns or videographers and the reporters and photographers must become one person to compensate budget cuts. There is an abundance of resources but not enough eyes scanning the pages of classified documents for that one key word or enough ears listening for the secret phrase that’ll change hundreds of lives or enough fingers typing furiously away to meet their deadline.
How can journalists break these bad habits of taking the quicker routes to find background information, using the not-always-so-reliable-but-always-is-a-big-talker sources, and spinning stories’ angles with personal pride and objection? How can we return to the watchdog days of writing complete stories to inform, educate and promote action by readers? Not tell readers how to think or act.
Where is transparency? Has it disappeared due to fear of the truth or fear of losing finances? Has it disappeared because there is more corruption or there is more to corrupt?
Looking back at journalism 50 years ago is dizzying. I can’t even imagine what it will be like 50 years from today, but I pray that it will be more progressive and impressive when I’m 72 than when I was 22.