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2015-07648

J 101 FRU

First Think Paper

What is Journalism and Who are Journalists?

Journalism cannot be boxed by any single definition that encompasses all and the

same goes with traits that a journalist must possess. As with every concept, there is always a

contestation amongst people who see, and define the world they live in differently. However,

I am going to discuss journalism in three concepts - truth, people and power and discuss the

traits that a good journalist must have as I embody it in 4 C’s.

First, journalism is about seeking for the truth, investigating the truth and reporting

the truth. But the question is, what is the truth? Is it relative, is it multiple or is there one

single truth? Merriam Webster defines truth as “the property (as of a statement) of being in

accord with fact or reality.” Another definition from philosophy says that truth is “the

property of sentences, assertions, beliefs, thoughts, or propositions that are said, in ordinary

discourse, to agree with the facts or to state what is the case (Blackburn, 2009).” I believe that

though every issue and story contains multiple sides, there is only one truth and journalism

always adheres with discovering that single truth. As media shapes the reality of people in

many ways, the more that the truth must always be the one being pursued and delivered to the

public.

Second, journalism is about the people - what interests, concerns and affects the

people. It is people-driven and people-centered. It's for the people, meaning journalism

pursues public interest more than anything else. True ethical journalism that gains credibility

is one that is motivated by the public's interest and not a company's, a politician's or a

journalist's personal interest. Moreover, discussed in class was Helen Sissons' idea that
journalism is about telling real life stories. It is about conveying human experience in such a

way that convinces people to open their minds, think, and understand the different

circumstances of others, and the society they live in.

Third and last, journalism is power because it creates and shapes public opinion that

influences government policies and private institutions. Learning from my elective in speech

last midyear that public opinion is power, I think as a shaper of reality, journalism shows that

it has great power to influence. As public opinion deals with the minds of the people, so it

also deals with the decisions of the people and with it comes an effect towards other

institutions in society especially the government and private businesses. Public opinion can

affect bills being passed into laws. Public opinion can shape the decisions of public officials.

Public opinion is powerful. And journalism is a very powerful tool to shape public opinion

for the good. It can propagate change as it influences minds of the people. That is why

everything in a story matters - framing, angle and content because every story holds power in

it.

The same contestation can be said regarding the characteristics a journalist must

embody. However, there are cardinal traits that I think he/she must have, and these are

embodied in 4 C's.

The first C is curious. A journalist must always be curious for things that are unusual

and worth noticing. As was discussed in class and as I often hear from different media

practitioners, having a nose for news is very important. Big stories with revelations come

from small unusual things a journalist digs into it until something gets exposed. Without

curiosity, a journalist will settle for “pwede na ‘yan,” or “siguro wala lang ‘yun” instead of

asking questions that will reveal important answers. As Prof. Ordinario said - and this is

something I will never forget - ‘do not be afraid to pose stupid questions.’ Those stupid
questions may lead to the biggest news stories but who will know it until we ask it. A

journalist who is always curious will always discover a lot as well.

The second C is critical-thinker. A journalist is one who is critical in thinking, trusting

and decision-making. ​According to criticalthinking.com, ​critical thinking​ “is that mode of

thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the

quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing.” A

journalist will not settle for anything less in writing and reporting stories. As the meaning

says, there is reconstruction happening when critical thinking is present and that is the

information being improved and stories getting a deeper substance to which journalists must

always persevere in doing. Moreover, a journalist must also be cr​itical in trusting because not

all sources of information are reliable and accurate. As Prof. Ordinario said, be suspicious of

all sources. A journalist is one who carefully weighs things including the sources of his/ her

news stories.

The third C is courageous because journalists must not be afraid to go on exposing the

truth and seeking it. There may be risks on the way as people will be stepped on just to report

the truth but a journalist bravely seeks the truth even in circumstances that newsgathering

becomes dangerous. Journalists, despite uncertainties and dangers, still go on pursuing and

exposing truth courageously. And despite all odds, they scrutinize the government and the

people in power for they know that this is what starts change in the nation.

The last C that I will use to describe a journalist is credible because a journalist must

always uphold ethical standards that will make the readers and viewers deem them

trustworthy and reliable. I believe that there is no sense in making news reports or stories if

no one will read or watch it. And the best way to be credible is to be ethical, fair, and honest

as a journalist pursues no one else’s interest other than the public’s interest or good.
With the complexity of defining journalism and describing a good journalist, it is

impossible to put it all in a single definition or trait but even if this is the case, journalism

must always possess the core of seeking the truth, centering it on people’s interest and

knowing and using its power for the good. And this will all be done and prioritized by good

journalists who are curious, critical-thinkers, courageous and credible.


References:

Blackburn, S. W. (2009, April 20). Truth. Retrieved from

https://www.britannica.com/topic/truth-philosophy-and-logic

Our Concept and Definition of Critical Thinking. (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/our-conception-of-critical-thinking/411

Mcquail, D. (2013). Journalism and Society. Retrieved from

https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=SYsRAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&sour

ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Truth. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth