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Posts Tagged ‘John Ferrugia’

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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Enduring Values in Radio and Television

Posted by Becky Dale on September 11, 2008

As a broadcast journalism-hopeful student, I was excited to sit in on this discussion, but nothing could have prepared me for the intensely passionate words that passed around the beautiful lecture hall in Neff. As alums shared snippets of memories of various teachers and classes taken in that very room, everything became a bit clearer–these are real people, and one day I could join them.

But the topic of discussion was, fortunately for others, not my own inclusion to their ranks, but rather where my choice of work will take me in five, ten, twenty, fifty years. More importantly, what is happening in broadcast journalism today?

Two minutes behind schedule, Kent Collins commenced what would become a slew of speculations on the future of journalism with the assurance that “we’re on time” according to broadcast. After pointing out celebrities such as “the gury of all gurus” Rod Gillett, Collins deferred to chief editor of the MissouriNet Bob Priddy.

Providing a rather light introduction before the onslaught, Priddy reminisced about his own experience at  MU before shoving the cold, hard facts under the noses of all present: we are all “playing with a deck in which all fifty-two cards are wild.”

John Ferrugia contributed his own opinion: “news is a product.” He spoke about the awards that various news stations can receive and that, while the audience cares very little about the awards themselves, the standards they represent that each honored news station meets are of the utmost importance to viewers.

The goal of all journalism, regardless of medium, is to uphold the first amendment to ensure democracy.

Most people would agree. Voters glean their information from the Internet and television much more than from newspapers and magazines, though both are still viable options. Voters then take part in our fundamental democratic right–electing members to the great institution, the government.

Joe Bergantino took over for Ferrugia and agreed that news has become a product of marketing and advertising over the past thirty years. It is now necessary to return to our fundamental values. “Somebody had to hold the powerful accountable,” thus the creation of journalism.

We as journalists currently face “a crisis point in our profession,” says Bergantino. It is now time to return to our jobs as national watchdogs, rather than submit to those who would shape the news.

News Director for KOMU-TV Stacey Woelfel shared his own insights. The School of Journalism has had to change its teaching to keep up with technology and the enterprise companies. It has become difficult to keep in line with Radio and Television’s enduring values while keeping students marketable to those fields.

The conversation switched to the importance of content. “Content will sell,” says Ferrugia. “People want to know” and the journalist is a content-provider. After showing an excerpt from his own project on rape and sexual assault within the military, Ferrugia proudly announced a change in the institution. A sexual assault officer is now stationed in every military unit.

Stories like that are hard to come by, and what is more, economics drive stories. The “good” stories like Ferrugia’s cost a good deal of money and, more importantly, time. Few stations are willing to sacrifice so much for a story that might not sell to an audience. Furthermore, some journalists fear that management may choose not to air a story that would be unappealing to a marketing agency. One member of the audience, also a part of tv management, retorted, “if you can’t sell me” then it’s not worth airing. That seems to uphold the “good content sells” theory.

While the future remains largely unknown thanks to the rapid increase in technology like iPods, YouTube, and phones delivering news as well as the fast decline of traditional print, Bergantino identifies the challenge in prediction: “people will watch, the question is where.”

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