Thursday, 18 October 2007

Journalism and Society Lecture - 18/10/07

Ethics as applied to the Media

- Democracy and Journalism
The link is very important.
The practice of ethical journalism can be a democratizing tool.

Journalism <---> Politics <---> Freedom
All are interdependent and linked. They cannot exist independently.

Journalism’s existence and role has always been questioned. What is it for? Who is it serving? These questions have always been asked

Technology. Effects how we read and what we read. From the invention of the press to today’s electronic revolution. Today we talk of instantaneous journalism (internet) vs. delayed journalism (newspapers)

There are two types of news
News to Use – news as a public service and information.
News to Amuse – news as entertainment

- Entertainment in journalism is not a new invention. It has always been there and the papers of the past have many examples of what we call tabloid journalism today

- it took until the 19th century for journalism to be seen as an activity independent of state control and as a serious activity.

Tickle The Public – on tabloid journalism

- information vs. entertainment
pubic interest vs interest in the public. These are issues which have always been points of conflict

What is journalism for?
-The simple answer is to provide information to the public
What’s is being done to the people? For them? About them?
- It is there to empower the people
- It is educating
And importantly helps us make responsible choices as citizens

This is what Greenslade calls Pure Journalism / Ought Journalism as opposed to Impure Journlaism / Is Journalism

“Ought Journalism” is about
- History
recounting and keeping of records of our times

- Geography
to map boundaries and provide maps for the mind

- Biography
talk about the characters which effect our lives and events around us

- Anthropology

The Elements of Journalism, Kovatch and Rosenstiel

- ideally the press should be free and self governing
- journalism should enable us to think
- it is a transmission of intelligence

Role of the Net
- technology allows us to be more democratic in how we pass information on.
- allows immediacy of conversation and passing of messages easily

But How do we do journalism?
Do we just pass on information? Facts? Truth?

And a very pertinent question is how do we perform a public service on behalf of democracy and still work in an environment which is based in profit and money making?

What is our place in society as journalists?
Can we describe what we do? How do we fit in?
Is it a trade? A profession?
Ultimately we are trying to be eyewitnesses to history and give our accounts of what we have seen truthfully

Society for all sorts of reasons has developed a hostility towards “Is Journalism”. The journalism which is interested in the public instead of providing news of public interest. It is the more prevalent journalism.

This brings us to the current crisis in Journalism. How much is this trent towards “is journalism” the journalists’ fault and how much society’s?

- If people choose not to read how much of a compromise do you make to bring them back?
- is there any point in pumping out information without an audience?
- and how to appropriately engage the public.

- Do we produce journalism for Citizens or for Consumers
- Citizens: active, interested in society
- Consumers: passive, wanting to be entertained

- In Britain feel that the public service content legitimises and provides authority to their journalism.
- But in this duality which should weigh more? You are looking for balance
Famous anecdote about needing “Tits for the rail strike!!!” – I think sun???
- you need to find the right mix of trivial “is journalism” with the public service “ought journalism”.

How do we tell the truth when you put too much of the entertainment value in?
Coverage of serious news full of “fun” distracts from the actual information.

- this is at the heart of the profession
- the problem is that newsgathering is a subjective activity
- no story is value free
- who do you choose to talk to about the story etc etc

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