Journalism Myths (Unveiling the Truth)

Direct Knowlege Contributor Taylor Bauer
  • By Taylor Bauer, Technical Writer & Digital Marketing Expert
  • Taylor is a writer and SEO manager with a B.S. in Political Communication from Illinois State University. He also received his M.S. in Communications from Illinois State. His background comes from journalism, working at an NPR member station for three years before transitioning to blogging and search engine marketing. He lives in Illinois with his wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards.

Journalism is a broad field, stretching across numerous disciplines. Due to the presence of such a wide array of information, predictably, some of it ends up misunderstood by the general population. The lack of comprehension of specific fields is something that continually pushes misconceptions to the forefront. Focusing the spotlight on these misconceptions may lead to a negative blanket perception and false myths. Here we clear the air about journalism myths by emphasizing the facts that should take their place.

Journalism myths damage the public’s trust of news reporters and free and honest information. The key to fighting journalism lies and deceit is to inform the public on what is right and what is false. The rise of fake news increases the variation of journalism myths. Therefore, it is crucial to continually diminish incorrect information about the industry and journalists as a profession. 

Finding ways to explore journalism further helps to negate myths and their adverse effects. You and I might not know much about journalism as an industry. Still, we use the news every day to keep up with current events. That alone is reason enough to educate ourselves on journalism myths. Here are the best places to start when it comes to fighting false info in the news.

The Scope of Journalism Myths

It is crucial to understand that one is dealing with a field with many genres. As such, some aim to be completely different. Journalists strive to come up with material that communicates a message. Often, the context and nature of the news delivered will vary greatly. To give an insight into just how vast the field is, here are some of the facets of journalism:

Broadcast journalism

Broadcast journalism includes TV and radio broadcasting of news, events, and other information.

Investigative journalism

This genre usually includes synthesizing significant developments that may not be public knowledge. This genre is generally very reputable due to its in-depth and thorough nature.

Photojournalism

This field aims to capture the visual aspects of events, places, and notable occasions. It brings to life and gives color to the story in question.

Sports journalism

Global sporting events are a trillion-dollar industry, and, predictably, there is a field that focuses on sharing the events in the sector.

Communication journalism

This field goes beyond the conventional idea of journalism, covering areas such as social media, news writing, and broadcasting. It can focus on fields of interest addressed by human resources, marketing, public relations, and politics, among others.

Social media

This area is the most common media platform, accessible by a majority of the general population. Social media has evolved to go beyond traditional networking to involve news, fashion, sales, and marketing.

Creative writing

Writing can take a variety of forms. Anything from fiction to news reports can implement creative writing to hook the reader. This kind of journalism has a root in individual creativity and appeals to the emotional side of readers. It is through this field that we have cartoonists, opinion pieces, feature pieces, blogs, and the like.

Lifestyle journalism

As something a majority of the public can relate to, we have our home improvement pieces, fashion, and pretty much everything that relates to daily living in this discipline. Although less severe than breaking news, it is essential for general well-being and happiness.

The Birth of a Journalism Myths and Their Effects

There are even more fields of journalism not mentioned above, and this array of disciplines is bound to be a bit testing to comprehend fully. However, it takes objectivity and patience to nurture an unbiased opinion truly. When people don’t quite understand all aspects of the scope of a field, they might misconstrue certain elements. This scope can lead to filling in their knowledge gaps with misinformation, creating myths.

Myths, specifically negative ones, can have many adverse effects. This harm comes about if the matters in question lack adequate coverage. In such an instance, more and more people start to believe it and act accordingly. A negative perception is a deterrent to the partnership and corporation between journalists and media entities. Negative attitudes, therefore, have far-reaching effects. The one remedy is to shed light on critical areas of the journalism sector. This remedy illuminates the crucial role played by entities in the journalism industry.

Demystifying Journalism Myths

The upside to myths is that it is relatively simple to debunk them. All you need is clear information and logical thinking. Simple conveyance of information can have a significant effect, not only on the way we see journalism but the way we react to what we see on the media. Here are some of the most common myths that the journalism industry has had to contend with, and the most relevant facts that bring clarity to the critical issues.

Journalism Myth #1: Controlling the Press Equates to Gagging It

Fact: It is a myth in journalism that enforcing specific controls amounts to stopping the industry from delivering as expected. Law and policy apply to all governable sectors of life, and the journalism industry is no different. Sometimes this means evaluating trade-offs to determine the path of lesser harm while accepting there is no harmless path. For example, prohibiting hate speech or death threats might be seen by some as limiting free speech. But the consequences of allowing the right to free speech in this scenario might lead to the violation of someone else’s right to life if the statement turns into violent actions against others.

Certain checks and balances must come into play for the industry to uphold the dignity and other critical rights—players in the journalism industry endeavor to work within the constraints of law and policy. But at the same time, they must deliver the best content possible. The limits and guidelines are a necessary component for every competent industry.

Myth #2: The Media is Generally Untrustworthy

Fact: There is a perception that the media twists everything, and that everything should take with a pinch of salt. The problem here is lumping all sources of the media into one larger “Media” category. However, not all sources are equal. Tabloids or sensationalist news sources will value sales and revenue over all else, sacrificing quality and reliability. They perpetuate journalism myths of all kinds, and they will usually not provide references or facts to back up their claims. Other newspapers or broadcasts go to great efforts to report events in an unbiased manner, often including sources.

There have been incidences where the press has had to retract sections of reports. But as is expected of any global platform, imperfection is likely to be a part of proceedings. Competence is a crucial aspect of publicized reports, and as a result, how the organization reacts to a mistake is essential. Steer clear of sources that never admit guilt or correct their errors. Readers maintain some responsibility for knowing which sources to trust. Websites such as this one can help readers stay on top of reliability.

Myth #3: Judges Always Side with the Press

Fact: There have been a lot of matters submitted before courts of competent jurisdiction regarding the manner of disclosure or content of reports publicized by journalists and media entities. In some instances, the legal bodies have acted to protect the interest of maintaining a free press. In others, the journalism industry has felt the full force of the law.

Orders have existed for the retraction and public apology, payment of damages (sometimes punitive), and issuance of gag orders, among other forms of redress to the plaintiffs. The law will consistently seek to remedy the violation of rights and manipulation of the social construct that aims to accommodate all entities without favoring some.

Myth #4: All Exposes can be Justified Using the Public Interest Defense

Fact: The journalism industry is the core player in bringing hidden events to the forefront by investigative works. However, not all exposes are justifiable by a claim that publicizing the subject matter was in the public interest. It is easy to claim that the people have a right to know, especially on the issues that are bound to bring about some considerable reaction from the masses. The general public will, as always, welcome all information possible, and subsequently, act on it either by action or omission. This scenario delegates a responsibility to the industry to strive for accuracy and competence.

But some incidences include sensitive information or some type of information that should remain sealed due to the potential consequences of disclosure. Publication of specific content will, therefore, lead to a collision course with the law. It is imperative to consider the nature of a report or writing and possible events that may arise from disclosure of the same.

Myth #5: The Press Hacks in the Tabloids are Harmless

Fact: We have individuals who will go to the extent of tapping phones and bugging offices and residences to get a story. These borderless initiatives mean to be a loveable rogue quality. But the right to privacy is part of The Human Rights Act, and the endeavors to seek out facts and other information must follow law and policy. The police are not the exception either; they need subpoenas and warranties to take specific courses of action without the consent of the person or institution in question.

We should all admire the drive of someone who uses conventional and lawful means to get a story. Rogue approaches have a limited scope, and the limits have to observe to remain on the acceptable side of all that considered being of integrity.

Myth #6: Journalism is All Business, No Light Side

Fact: A well-established fact is that journalism demands a lot of commitment, which many times means working beyond the usual 9 to 5 schedule of many professionals. Getting your story will push you beyond the ordinary, requiring you to make sacrifices to deliver consistently. The truth is that hard work is a prerequisite to being a successful journalist. With the presence of strict timelines, especially with matters such as the delivery of news, it is imperative to deliver the content on-schedule each time. It is easy to see the problematic aspect of the field, and the effort required will, at times, make the area seem all-business and bland.

But on the other hand, journalism is a pursuit that reaches beyond the assignment; it is a passion. Several exciting events lift the spirit and soul in the course of work. Especially in the more lighthearted entertainment sector of journalism, good times abound. The field includes both hard work and happiness, giving it the perfect balance.

Myth #7: Privacy is Only for the Rich

Fact: Over time, the well-off in society might appear to receive more lenient treatment. Time and again, the disclosure of a select type of information leads the wealthy to run to court to get retractions, public apologies, and damages. Such applications for redress have been successful, along with issued gag orders on some matters involving institutions as well as the affluent. It is, therefore, easy to get the perception that it takes a certain level of financial muscle to protect your privacy from the media.

However, the law itself is not a respecter of wealth, social standing, or influence. Rules and policies that seek to have a journalism industry with integrity and adherence to set legal provisions apply to all. Sometimes all you need is a proper understanding of your rights. A critical insight after you know the legal aspect of your privacy is the way to approach situations where you suspect an infringement, and this gives your cause a higher chance of success.

Myth #8: Technology Has Made Journalism a Walk in the Park

Fact: Technological advancement is useful to make a lot of activities all over the globe much simpler. One can create posters, build websites, and shoot, edit, and publish videos without formal training. Content creation has become incredibly easy. This simplicity of making things happen makes everyone think that they can make it as a journalist. However, a deeper understanding of the industry clarifies the bigger picture and demystifies the real cost of proper journalism.

Journalists of the right skill aren’t just posting large quantities of pure material. Their pieces are intricate, meaningful, thorough, and beyond the skill sets of those riding the wave of technology. They maintain quality in the face of ever-increasing quantity and misinformation. Skillful journalists would remain valuable even if modern technological advances and stepping stones vanished. The quality of their work relies not on this technology, but on formal training, experience, knowledge of legal guidelines, personal character, and the ability to come at issues with an insightful perspective.

Consensus on Journalism Myths

Journalism myths are prevalent in the modern age, especially with the greater quantity of material we have to deal with now. While there are some problems with some areas of journalism, it is a waste of effort to try to fix things that break. Understanding how these myths came about and how to adequately address them is critical for making sure we focus our efforts on areas that need improving.

Conclusion

The truth behind journalism helps the public stay informed and protected from fake news. Knowing the industry and finding ways to support credible journalism helps rid the profession of false info—the best thing you can do as a consumer finds ways to fight journalism myths. Overall, the job is highly influential. Both audiences and journalists have a role to play to protect the sanctity of the industry.

Overall, how can journalism myths harm the public?

What ways, in your opinion, do journalists help to break down misconceptions of the industry?

Why is it crucial to help support journalists who work hard at their jobs to deliver factual reporting?