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Evin Code
Professor Erin Workman
ENC 2135
22 July 2015
Journalism in Todays World
A key component for the success of any developed nation is the passing of
information from the site of an event to the eyes and ears of the population. Journalists
utilize a variety of different approaches to accomplishing this task. Whether it is reporting
from an active war zone in the Middle East or from city hall in a small town, the job
remains the same; to represent information to their audience in an appropriate and
efficient manner. The writers in the field of journalism accomplish much more than just
interpreting, analyzing and portraying information; they are the sparks that ignites a fire.
Articles have the power to kindle a conversation amongst the populous that may result in
cultural shift. Incidents of racial discrimination on national news can be a wake up call
for an entire country to reevaluate their morals or how parents teach their children to treat
those around them. The words of writers deliver a new sense of accountability. Once a
newfound problem arises and it becomes well known within a group of people, it is less
likely to occur. Fearing being socially ostracized, individuals are more likely to behave
within the new cultural guidelines. A journalist must start from not knowing a single fact
about the situation to publishing an in-depth article that captures the attention of the
audience and delivers the important information.
Investigating multiple sources to produce the most credible and accurate work is a
crucial part in the job of the journalist. According to The News journal, investigative

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journalism is finding, reporting, and presenting news, which other people try to hide
(Ingram). This definition is a brief description of the immense work that goes into
discovering the unknown. Ingram writes, Good investigative reporters have contacts in
places most likely to provide stories (Ingram). According to Jay Rosen, note taking is
another necessity when composing an investigative article. Notes should be written down
immediately and must contain anything that may be useful in the writing process. Notes
that may not seem important at the moment could potentially be the answer to a question
the writer has later on (Ingram). Unless the writer witnessed the event he or she will be
writing about, contacts are a necessity. By interviewing witnesses of an event, they are
enabled to piece together an eyewitness account of an incident to elaborate on in their
report. The reader is uninterested in what Probably happened, they want to be able to
envision the event through every riveting detail. How the author describes the event is
what brings the piece to life, and what captivates the audience. When a person walks into
their kitchen hearing a writers story being read on television, they should drop their
cereal and their eyes should light up with interest.
Journalists are the unofficial watchmen of those in power. They hold the duty to
make public the work of those in power. Power that goes unchecked leads to corruption.
When investigating possible crimes or corruption, perpetrators hide from the facts
therefore the journalist required to dig for the facts. Credibility is a pivotal component of
any work of literature and can make or break a journalists work. Writers gather their
information from a variety of sources, which directly impact the quality of their work.
According to a study conducted by Public Relations Review, 79% of journalists most
often consulted websites for their sources and only 3% identified social media as the

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source they use most often (Howes). This study illustrates that every journalist uses
different tactics when writing a piece. Those most often using social media may have a
biased article because of the disparate views prevalent on those sites. Social media
contains largely opinion-based information used to gather a following of people. Social
media sites would be useful when examining social behavior and a general position on a
topic. When gathering information a journalist exhausts all resources including those of
opposing viewpoints. To get a good grasp on a subject, the reader must be presented with
all sides of the argument in order to form their own educated opinion. The kind of sources
a writer explores depends on what type of article is being written. For example, there are
official reports, transcripts of court meetings, company reports and more that is by law,
open to be viewed by the public.
It is imperative for a journalist to consider genre when conducting the writing
process. A readers expectation of a newspaper article and a book are very different just
as a writers style is very different in each. Many readers may be turned away by just the
title of an article. To them, their time is a commodity that must not be wasted. The reader
does not expect to invest full time and effort into a short newspaper article so theyre
unlikely to reread a paragraph to clear up any confusion (Cole). This means that the
information being presented must be as clear, concise and most importantly as engaging
to the reader as possible. When writing in this genre, journalists often follow an inverted
pyramid style, placing the most important and gripping details in the beginning and
following with details of tertiary importance (Glass). Essentially a journalists goal is for
their work to be read. Whether or not it is read completely through is a true test of the
work (Cole). It is a writer's job to make the incomprehensible understandable to an

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audience, and if a writer fails at that then the work is pointless. The journalist must
examine their audience before presenting his work to them. The average American being
Ill-informed and unequipped sets the stage for the writer to showcase the subject in a
manner that is simplistic enough to be understood by them (Rosen). In order to do so the
writer creates an entertaining story that carries the information along with it without
making it too complicated. When writing newspaper articles, brevity is essential. Its
important to identify whats news and what isnt; what the reader needs to know and what
they could do without (Taylor). Unless, of course, the journalist is writing for a scholarly
journal, in which case the genre is very disparate. The writing in this situation would
follow a more formal rather than entertaining path considering that scholars in the field
would examine it. Writers in this genre generally introduce a topic by presenting thesis
then lay out the premise for discussion. Unlike newspaper articles, academic journals
hold the stuff of primary importance throughout the work or towards the middle and
conclusion. Gathering material is also a considerably different process. Instead of
targeting the scene of an event, a journalist will most often look towards the work of
colleagues and other recognizable authors to cite their work as they develop their own
discussion on a certain topic.
Publishing an article for an academic journal can be a grueling process. One tool
scholars use to measure the quality of a journalists work is how often it is cited.
According to Eric Newton of the Knight Blog website, articles should also be measured
by actual impact, for example the jailed people who are freed, the criminals who are
jailed, and new laws or policies that save lives or stop government waste. Unfortunately,
it can be very difficult for a writers work to achieve prominence when there is a very

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large deficiency in research funds (Newton). In this situation, the writer is forced to work
with few and insufficient resources, resulting in an inferior piece of journalism.
Benjamin Franklin once said, Either write things worth reading or do things
worth the writing. His words expound on the fact that a journalist must not waste their
efforts writing stories that fail to be remembered. Becoming published journalist isnt
something that happens overnight. USA Today offers numerous suggestions as to how
this feat can be achieved. Writing for a campus newspaper is not only a great place to
start but is also imperative to getting hired after the college years have come to a close
(Glass). Most newspapers have an online blog that accept both paid and unpaid
submissions. Writing for these adds Big names to a journalists portfolio, an important
step to achieving recognition (Glass). Starting a blog as your own writer can also be a
catalyst for a writer's recognition.
In addition to the steps a journalist must take to be published there is also a long
list of ethics that must be followed. Original sources provide the most truthful accounts
for journalists to use. Journalists are encouraged to stray away from secondhand sources
as much as possible considering that the information provided in these are often
misconstrued to fit someone elses ideas and not your own (SPJ Code of Ethics). Ethics
havent always been enforced the way they are today. For example in 20th century
Chicago, when journalists were getting more and more competitive, They would do
almost anything -including lying and stealing- to get a scoop (Sterling). Without a clearly
identified source of information, that writers words are worthless. As stated by the
Society of Professional journalists, the public is entitled to as much information as
possible related to an authors source. In doing so, the audience is enabled to draw their

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own conclusions when measuring its reliability. It is crucial to the integrity of an article
that the author verifies all information gathered (SPJ Code of Ethics). The writer is
responsible for the validity of all claims made within a paper with the author's name
attached to it. Information that goes misrepresented can potentially ruin the reputation of
a journalist, rendering all future works questionable. Identifying that evidence was
provided by an unbiased and reputable source can carry out verification. It is journalist's
job to provide information to the public, not to cause harm to those parties who may have
been affected. It must not go unrecognized that legal access to information does not grant
ethical justification (SPJ Code of Ethics). When an article comes into question for its
clarity and validity, the author must respond quickly to uphold their credibility (SPJ Code
of Ethics). Although a writers job is to relay information, compassion should always be
shown when dealing with sensitive subjects and cultural boundaries must be considered
to avoid offending large groups of people. A recent example of such an incident occurred
in early January 2015 when a group of gunmen opened fire at the office of French
satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in an apparent Islamic militant attack (Schofield). The
attackers opened fire inside the office building, killing 4 of the companys most well
known cartoonists and 8 others including police officers and civilians (Schofield). The
attack was provoked when the satirical Paris newspaper printed caricatures of the Islamic
prophet Muhammad, offending Muslim extremists that hold beliefs against the
illustration of any kind of their most influential prophet. This is why journalists of all
kind must use caution when religion or potentially offensive subjects are dealt with. An
impartial point of view is how most journalists avoid these situations.

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The people have a natural right to awareness of possible dangers, the economic
situation, the actions of their leaders and much more about their occurrences of their own
society. The world relies on journalists to transfer these events to information that can be
understood by the people. The process of synthesizing sources into coherent articles is a
meticulous process carried about by successful journalists every day. In Christopher
Sterlings Encyclopedia of Journalism, he asserts that traditional journalism acquires
primary sources, whether interviews or documents, and then analyzes and synthesizes
them. Articles regarding the current socioeconomic situation produce much more than
just awareness. Journalists serve to create accountability among their patrons and have to
power to create a shift in cultural ideals. An investigative journalist that exposes a
company for corruption sets a wave of sensibility in motion that can prevent future
incidents like it. If gone unchecked the work of journalists has the ability to send an
entire society into panic. For a journalists work to be noteworthy it must also be ethical.
His work must be verified by multiple reputable sources for it to be reliable. The
outcome of an article is completely dependent on the source of the facts. Authors that are
able to conduct successful interviews and take copious notes enable themselves to
recreate an event in the mind of the reader. One of the most imperative components of a
piece for a writer to focus on is the genre. The way a newspaper article is presented is far
different from an article from a journal. The audiences expectations dictate the language
used in an article. Intelligence must be taken into account when presenting facts to the
audience in order to obtain and hold onto the readers attention.

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Works Cited
Candler, Sheri. Sheri Candler Marketing and Publicity. 6 June 2011. 18
July 2015

<http://www.shericandler.com/2011/06/06/how-do-

journalists-find-stories-and-how-do-you-get-them-to-coveryours/>.
Cole, Peter. The Gaurdian. 24 September 2008. 18 July 2015
<http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/25/writing.journali
sm>.
Glass, Nicole. A College Journalist's Guide to Freelance Writing . 4 June
2012. 18 July 2015 <http://college.usatoday.com/2012/06/04/acollege-journalists-guide-to-freelance-writing/>.
Howes, Pauline. "An examination of the role of online social media in
journalists

source mix." Public Relations Review 35.3 (2009):

314-316.
Ingram, David. The News Manual. 1991. 17 July 2015
<http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals%20Volume
%202/volume2_39.htm>.
Newton, Eric. Knight Blog. 5 September 2012. 18 July 2015
<http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2012/9/5/exp
loring-the-value-of-academic-research-in-journalism/>.
Reader, Bill. Audience Feedback in the News Media. Taylor and Francis,
2015.

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Rosen, Jay. What Are Journalists For? Yale University Press, 1999.
Schofield, Hugh. Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills
12 . 7
January 2015. 18 July 2015 <http://www.bbc.com/news/worldeurope-30710883>.
SPJ Code of Ethics. 6 September 2014. 18 July 2015
<http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp>.
Stephanie Craft, Charles N. Davis. Principles of American Journalism:
An
Introduction. Routledge, 2013.
Steven Clayman, John Heritage. The News Interview: Journalists and
Public Figures
on the Air. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Sterling, Christopher. Encyclopedia of Journalism. SAGE Publications,
2009.
Taylor, Brittany. Writing in the Disciplines: Journalism.
<http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/journalism/types.ht
ml>.

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