Journalists today have many more demands placed on them than their counterparts in the past. There’s pressure to keep up with the fast pace of online reporting, while still balancing the question of truth and accuracy with what is currently viral or popular. How can a journalist face these challenges? Keep reading to find out.
Lack of science and tech knowledge
Most journalists have a background in the arts and not so much in tech or science. Many of the most vital stories today deal with these topics, such as how the rise in hacking online, or climate change and its effects. Therefore, there is a question if they can accurately report on these important stories if they don’t fully grasp the science or tech behind them.
A manual on reporting suggests using experts in order to report accurately on technical subject matter. A journalist should also have basic rules and knowledge on the subject so they have a foundation. Reading up on recent news in the area can help as well. Recommendations for these books can come from asking questions of the same experts. Another point for journalists to keep in mind is that they should not use hyperbole or exaggerate the facts in order to draw attention. A sensational headline about climate change or the use of robots can attract readers. However, if the science or tech does not support it, credibility is undermined.
Verifying news online
Responsible journalism means verifying that the sources of the news are accurate and without bias. Online news and sources are especially difficult to deal with. There are plenty of posts, images, videos and more on the web and a journalist has to judge the accuracy of it all. When dealing with anonymous sources or content that comes from social media, there should be guidelines used. The original source should always be identified. There should also be an effort to find out if there has been any alteration to the content. For example, an image could have been altered with Photoshop. A video may have important parts deleted or omitted.
Photographs of violence or death
Journalists have always reported from war zones. However, now that technology is more accessible, there are many more images taken and shared around the world. These photographs often show death, bodies, and the results of violence. Journalists have to deal with the issue of ethical reporting when covering wars, migration, and refugees. One of the most widely shared images of a recent war was a photograph of a dead child. While important, these graphic images are still controversial.
Those in the media have debated if it’s in good taste to publish similar photos. It has been suggested that there be guidelines on publication. Just because an image has gone viral and is popular does not mean it should be published. A journalist should question if things like context and information on the image’s background should be included alongside the image in order to be ethically responsible.