Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Notes for a lecture

My notes, based mostly on the introduction of a book on online journalism, for my talk during the national convention of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in Santo Domingo, Albay, on May 21, 2006.

Communication is critical because it impacts on the social, political and economic conditions of a country

Journalists have become the people’s last hope

Journalism has become a foundation for democracy

Freedom to communicate is the foundation for any democratic entity or institution

John Milton: “Society is best served when different views are presented freely in a marketplace of ideas and the truth emerges through a self-righting process.”

John Stuart Mill: “Suppressing any opinion is robbing humanity of an opportunity to find the truth.”

Inclusion vs exclusion – Journalists must be inclusive not exclusive. We must seek information, ideas and opinions

Quality of life – Journalists contribute substantially to a better quality of life for everyone

Media problems and pressures – media outlets are owned by conglomerates, many not having to do with media

News as commodity – make money, sell news and info as commodity

PR quandary – PR professionals muddle the issue to protect clients


Partisanship – the left and the right try to pressure journalists, media organizations

Personal loyalties/beliefs – make stories slanted/hyped



Objective Approach – accuracy, completeness, precision, clarity in collection of information and dissemination

Journalists should be:

1. receptive to new information and alternative explanations
2. skeptical toward authority figures, the powerful and self-righteous
3. creative in finding information
4. imaginative and consistent in making strategic decisions
5. fair and impartial
6. unwilling to support any political, cultural, social or economic interests
7. honest about personal idiosyncrasies and preferences

Alternatives to Objective Approach

1. public/civic journalism – journalists should participate in social, political and economic process to re-connect to the public life from which many have become disengaged
2. existential journalism – practitioners promote freedom and welfare of others; an orientation to being true to oneself

Media Convergence – merger into one newsroom of TV, radio, newspaper and web

Journalists not only write a story for newspapers but may even read the news on TV or radio, take photos.video

Journalists should be adaptable and learn a variety of skills

Lines separating job functions have blurred and can even disappear in the future; newspapers can refer readers to websites to watch streaming video shot at the scene by TV crew and annotated by radio reporters.

What must journalists do?

- Understand social, political, cultural and economic context
- Study and learn to appreciate the importance of free and responsible journalism
- Learn why you cannot assume that problems of media consolidation, profit motive and conflicting loyalties will not affect you or why you should not ignore it
- avoid mistakes like plagiarism (learn craft seriously)
- develop genuine sensitivity to the powerless to understand why their voices should be reflected in media
- think why you want to be a journalist and whether this is a profession for you

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