What Journalists Do

This essay was written for my journalism class. I was asked to read through The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, then write about what I learned. Here is what I came up with:

The reading assigned in class this week helped me to realize the essential function journalism plays in society. The gathering and distribution of information is essential to the functioning of any civilization. Every community in the world has a means by which they access and store information. Whether the means are by stone carvings, paper or computer memory the point is to have a reliable means of keeping track of what is going on in the world.

The book explained the role journalists play in the endeavor to gather meaningful information. A reporter stands out from the public because they have a highly regarded responsibility to be trustworthy and capable. Very few occupations revolve solely around the act of telling the truth. The public trusts journalists to present factual and relevant information. In many ways, they determine how society progresses into the future. It is like in battle. The general may command thousands of troops, but it is the scout who gives the general the information needed to move the men to victory.

The nature of truth was described in the reading. Human beings are seekers of truth. The New Testament described the Athenians as spending their time in “nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.” (Acts 17:21) Our brains crave more information. The brain is designed to process facts and figures. It will take any information it can get its grubby little lobes on. The journalist knows this and serves a heaping helping of information to the public with each issue published.

People are particular in which truths they seek. The journalist tries to anticipate the public’s unique tastes. A working relationship is formed between the writer and the reader through the articles published. An unspoken promise is made stating that the readers will read the news when the writers write what interests them. A journalist takes a risk when he or she puts out information the public hasn’t already agreed to be interested in.

I learned that journalism is a tough business. Reporters function as the eyes of society and in return all eyes are on them. Reporters help to connect us to parts of the world we don’t have the opportunity to experience on our own. They are storytellers. They tell us news that can uplift us or fill us with dread. A reporter can function as our telescope or our magnifying glass. We, the audience, determine what the reporter has to go through to get the truth across. We make it easier on them by taking the truth they deliver to heart and putting it to use.

Journalism belongs to all. Whether you are writing it or reading it, the news applies to everyone. The news writer does not write to only a few. Many groups seek the truth in a similar manner. Scientists, lawyers and priests scrounge for information as they can get it. However, the journalist simply seeks truth for truth’s sake. The journalist does not try to make the world fit his or her personal view. The journalist simply wants to deliver the truth. The world has to decide whether or not it takes the journalist’s invitation to share the truth.


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