Today, Joy Mayer of the Community Outreach team spoke to us in lecture about the importance of open journalism, and our jobs as journalists to encourage such discussion. To illustrate this, we watched the following clip from The Guardian used to demonstrate what open dialogue between the media and the public can do for journalism.
Not only is this advertisement funny, it really gets to the root of what I think I’ve always felt but am just now starting to really become a part of the process. I’m talking about the necessity of public engagement with the media in order to best provide the readers with what they need to know.
I mean, it’s a pretty simple concept, or at least what I’ve always associated with journalism. Reporters bring readers information that they need to know in order to stay informed about current topics in their communities, as well as to be aware of what’s happening in areas in a larger context but still of relevance to the immediate area.
However, I also remember having discussions about current events and even among friends where “the media” was to blame for a lot of inaccuracies and origins of controversial debates. It’s easy to say that something so large and vast is the cause of biased reporting or unequal representation of populations in the media stratosphere. What usually bothers me is that this “big bad media” always gets a bad rap for not giving the readers what they need in order to stay on top of current information, or in order to best make decisions for their own lives in an applicable sense. Sure, the media at large as an industry has become more and more condensed in more recent years and sensationalized media has definitely seen a rise in what seems to be an insatiable infatuation with celebrity news.
This kind of brings up the question I’ve wrestled with about art forms throughout the ages as far as whether art imitates life, or vice versa. In this scenario, it would bring into question whether journalism affects what the readers care about, or whether the audience is the one that ultimately controls what is published and distributed as news.
I think that it’s a mixture of both. Sure, the major news corporations have a lot of business and financial motives to provide certain content over others, but (I would like to think that) ultimately, it is the viewer that has the decision-making power (in the form of subscription and straight-out attention or support for) certain types of media. It is their actions that shape how the media reacts to them, to the news and to how the news is to be shared throughout the community.
If readers have something to say about how the news is being shared, by all means, let us all hear about how we can change it to best fulfill the functions of accurate, informative and enlightening journalism. We’ve just got to keep our chinny chin chins up, fellas, and extend that invitation to get more voices in on the conversation.