Social Role

Social Role Week 13 – Educating the Public about the Media’s Social Roles

Professional journalists and citizens must work together to accomplish a community of accurate and relevant news.  Blur, chapter 9 “What We Need from the Next Journalism” by Kovach and Rosenstiel, the authors acknowledge the heightened role of the citizen and the lessened role of journalist as gatekeeper: “Individual citizens will create their own news diet and even their own content” (196).  Because of this reduced role, “Citizens, who shape news production by the choices they make, have rights when it comes to news, but they also have responsibilities – even more so as they become producers and editors themselves” (291) according to Kovach and Rosenstiel for Elements of Journalism chapter 11 “The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens.”  By working together, public journalism can “create a learning community, one that discusses issues, not just on the basis of emotion but on facts about how things work” according to “Public Journalism and the Problem of Objectivity” by Philip Meyer for UNC.

In addition, it is not just journalists created journalism.  In “Brands aren’t the only ones becoming publishers and doing journalism — advocacy groups are too” by Matthew Ingram for gigaom.com, the author acknowledges that there are other groups putting information out there as well: “That said, groups like Human Rights Watch and the ACLU now have the same ability to write, film and publish to a potential audience as any media company, thanks to the internet and the social web.”  Additionally, political campaigns put out a lot of information without the press as well, as told by Kovach and Rosenstiel in Blur: “In the 2008 presidential race, videos produced by the Obama campaign staff were viewed more than one billion times on the candidate’s own YouTube channel, without any press involvement” (171).  The amount of views shows that the political campaign was able to directly communicate with the audiences without the press.

It must be a combined effort.  “The two sides, citizen and professional journalist, are not in competition.  They must work in combination.  The new citizen sentinel will not replicate the work of the professional journalist or even displace it, but rather inform, interact with, and evaluate it” (Elements of Journalism 289).  In “Learn from the fake news factories” by Jeff Jarvis for Zeit Online, the author outlines why the two must work together: “Media should listen to the conversations online, fact-check those that are getting out of hand, and share that information with the social platforms, which should in turn share that with users so they can make better judgments.”  By working together, citizens and journalists can create something impressive.  “Truth, accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinion are strengthened by being open to a wider range of opinion and perspective brought to us through the knowledge and understanding of our audience” (289).  Both the journalist and citizen must take on this responsibility.

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