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Author Topic: Experiences in journalism?  (Read 1718 times)

ruyi

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Experiences in journalism?
« on: 06 May 2008, 00:29 »

It's a thing I just started thinking about. Unfortunately I know so little about it that I don't even know the right questions to ask, beyond really general ones.

So. Tell me about your experiences! How did you get interested? What helped you prepare for it? What's it like? What kind of skills did you find handy? Is the future of journalism really doomed thanks to blogs and digital cameras? Etc. etc. Ignore any of these questions that don't apply or aren't useful, and please do touch on whatever you think is important.
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Ozymandias

Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #1 on: 06 May 2008, 00:49 »

I think you have to take a step back and ask what journalism really is, because it seems like the modern era of journalism is less based around fact collection and more about fact consolidation and opining, in stark contrast to the popular image of the intrepid young reporters of the past digging up dirt and finding the story. We don't need people to tell us what's going on: we can see that or find it out for ourselves. We need people to give a history to the subject and to put it in the context it deserves. Unfortunately, a lot of that history and context depends on your own viewpoint, making modern journalism that much more skewed than press of the past, even if you consider the gross misuses of the media Hearst managed. It's something that everyone seems to need to do just to stay afloat as relevant.

The other side is that the written word is so prevalent, so all-encompassing in our society, that we can no longer treat every source as even slightly important to finding the full truth, because you can actually find the most extreme sides of every issue presenting their side as fact for any situation. It's basically a mess where, in America at least,t he public has opted to sit in front of their televisions and only listen to the pre-approved talking head of their choice tell them what they want to hear and know. I know I'm guilty of it- I only watch Stewart & Colbert and BBC World News if I happen to catch it and I haven't sat down and read a newspaper in...I don't even know how long. Particularly bad, since my father actually works for a newspaper.

Which is basically the extent of my experience with journalism: he's been in the business for 20+ years doing everything from photographer to reporter to editor to web developer. Eventually, however, it just looked like to me the entire newspaper process has nothing to do with the news and everything to do with the etc. The ads, the special features, the other things that aren't the actual news articles. The reporters get shoved into their big room to vomit out their words and the rest of the staff makes it presentable and adds everything that actually sells the paper.
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Jimmy the Squid

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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #2 on: 06 May 2008, 02:16 »

The only experience I have with journalism is utterly despising every single journalism student I've ever met. They all just seem to be total pricks. If you could be the one to change this that would be pretty good.
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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #3 on: 06 May 2008, 15:07 »

I read The New York Times daily, I peruse The Economist every week, and watch CNN International quite often, in addition to reading several online papers/magazines.

To me, the three that I mentioned are three of the only respectable news outlets that are left. The Times obviously has a blatant liberal bias in its opinion pieces, and probably in its political news, but its international news is unrivaled in any other daily news outlet in the country. The Economist is just the apex of professional, serious journalism. It focuses on every region of the world, as well as sections devoted to Business, Finance, Science/Tech and The Arts. Additionally, they often publish almost overwhelmingly in-depth surveys of businesses, countries and regions (they recently did a 20 page report about the current political and fiscal situation in Vietnam [interestingly, people in Vietnam are, on average, more wealthy than those in China]).

I was on my high school newspaper, but it was ridiculously awful. I really don't mean to engage in self-worship here, but I was one of the few good writers on the staff. I've always excelled in writing. In fact, last year I wrote a full-page Op/Ed piece about what America's policy towards Iran should be. I was complimented on it vociferously by teachers and some students, but the rest of the newspaper staff lambasted me because "that's stupid, no one wants to read about boring things like that."

And the sad thing is, they're probably right. No one cares about substantive things anymore. They want to see Miley Cyrus' pubescent tits barely covered with a sheet. And when they do want to learn about it, they go to sources like Fox News, which, when I try to watch it, just about gives me an apoplexy do to sheer incredulity. As a somewhat left-leaning person, I'm biased against it, but as a person who's been educated for 5 years in the basic rules of journalism, it just digusts me. It's pure yellow journalism, sensationalism, nothing more and nothing less, and the channel is populated by some of the most repugnant bloviating blowhards every to disgrace the news. And that's saying something.
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Spike

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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #4 on: 06 May 2008, 16:35 »

Quote
Is the future of journalism really doomed thanks to blogs and digital cameras? Etc. etc.

I don't have any real journalism experience, but I don't think its doomed.  It is just that the way the game is played will change. 

Quote
We don't need people to tell us what's going on: we can see that or find it out for ourselves. We need people to give a history to the subject and to put it in the context it deserves. Unfortunately, a lot of that history and context depends on your own viewpoint, making modern journalism that much more skewed than press of the past, even if you consider the gross misuses of the media Hearst managed. It's something that everyone seems to need to do just to stay afloat as relevant.

I'm not entirely sure about whether or not people need someone to tell them about what is going on.  You are right that people can go and find what is going on by themselves, but then I'm left thinking that people won't, because it takes time to do that.  Part of journalism is getting information to people quickly, so that a person can just glance at it and at least get a general idea of what is going on.  If it's something they deem important or interesting they can go look it up on their own, and now that person has a starting point for their own research.
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Blue Kitty

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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #5 on: 06 May 2008, 20:09 »

I wanted to be a journalist, but after taking a single class I soon figured out I did not.  Being a mortician is my new calling.
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Emaline

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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #6 on: 06 May 2008, 21:39 »

I have a friend who graduated with a degree in Mass Comm. Her intention was to become a journalist. She now works two jobs, one with me at a record store, and another at a bank. Woo journalism!
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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #7 on: 06 May 2008, 22:58 »

This may be optimistic of me, but I think that if anything, the prevalence of blogs and digital cameras SHOULD make professional journalists more accountable.  If a story is reported without complete accuracy, it's becoming increasingly likely that some person will have photographs of an event that they will make public and potentially discredit the story.

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Johnny C

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Re: Experiences in journalism?
« Reply #8 on: 07 May 2008, 01:44 »

I dunno about real journalism but arts journalism is a fucking blast. This year I interviewed Oliver from A Place To Bury Strangers and Julie Doiron among others. If I was to go into journalism, that's where it would be - there's nothing wrong with being a subjective arts writer.

Anyways, for advice for journalists? Go into every interview with ten questions. No more, no less. That will almost always result in a great interview. Feel free to expand on points and, you know, do research about whoever you're interviewing. People like to hear that you've paid attention.
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