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Rewarding the Enduring Values of Radio-Television Journalism

Posted by Emily Reinbott on September 13, 2008

Walking into this session about broadcast journalism and values, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I am quite positive I don’t want to go into broadcast journalism so I don’t know much about the people and business.  I also wasn’t really sure what they meant by “values”.  I thought maybe that meant like telling the truth, you know, the simple stuff.  So really, I didn’t know what to expect at all.  Surprisingly, I listened to one of the most motivating talks I have ever heard.

During my three short weeks as a journalism student, I have heard over and over again of the uncertainty of the future of journalism.  Bob Priddy, the mediator of the panel, compared the future to “playing with a deck where all 52 cards are wild.  [Journalists] are still trying to learn the game.  We don’t even know what the game is.”  The dilemma; how to keep up with the changing audience but still hold true to the values on which Walter Williams founded the Missouri School of Journalism.

Journalism, contrary to popular belief, is supposed to be a public service.  It’s not about being flashy; it’s about finding stories that mean something.  John Ferrugia, a member of the panel, showed a video that his team had spent months researching.  It was about rape within the Air Force Academy.  This particular investigation brought about changes worldwide.  That is what it means to provide for the public.  That is why people should get into journalism.  It’s not about the fame and glory because really, the fame and glory are nonexistent.  It’s not being on TV and gaining recognition.  Journalism is about bringing problems into light so they can be resolved.

As I listened, I silently let out a sigh of relief.  I don’t want to spend my life writing about kittens in trees and the dangers of doorknobs.  I want to write about things that matter.  I thought I was just crazy for thinking I could do this within the journalism world but, apparently, this is what journalists are suppose to do! I am so excited!

But as I said before, the world of journalism is changing as the audience looks for a more convenient and digital form of media.  At first, media came in the form of a weekly newspaper.  Then it upgraded to the daily news and then news channels, such as CNN, were created to put on a constant stream of news.  But even this is not enough.  The Internet is now becoming a main source of constantly up to date news.  Newspapers and television are being thrown by the way side because of their inconvenience.  Marketing is now taking a larger role in the world of journalism.  Sadly, this means that those stories that can change the world are not being sought after.  They require lots of time and money, money newsrooms don’t have to spend.  The easy stories about kitty cats and doorknobs are much easier to fund but that is not journalism.  Those stories do nothing for the good of the public.  Keeping to the journalism creed, we journalists need to suck it up, put in those 14 hour work days, get those stories that mean the most and try not worry about the money.

At the end of this session, I looked at my partner, Becky, and said, “Wow, lets go write!”  It took such a load off my shoulders to know that, yes, I am doing the right thing with my life.  I can help people with my words.  All I have to do now is work my butt off!

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