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 exaggerated myths. Here we clear the air about journalism myths by emphasizing the facts that should take their place.
Table of Contents
The Scope of Journalism
It is crucial to understand that one is dealing with a field with many genres. As such, some are bound to be completely different. Journalists strive to come up with material that communicates a message. Often times, the context and nature of the message communicated will vary greatly. To give an insight into just how vast the field is, here are some of the facets of journalism:
Broadcast journalism includes TV and radio broadcasting of news, events, and other information.
This genre usually includes synthesizing significant developments that may not be public knowledge. This genre is usually very reputable due to its in-depth and thorough nature.
A field that captures the visual aspects of events, places, and notable occasions. It brings to life and gives color to the story in question.
Global sporting events are a trillion-dollar industry and, predictably, there is a field that focuses on sharing the events in the sector.
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.
This 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.
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.
As something we can all relate to, we have our home improvement pieces, fashion, and pretty much everything that relates to daily living in this discipline. Although less serious in nature than breaking news, it is important for general well-being and happiness.
The Birth of a Journalism Myth and Its 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 truly nurture an unbiased opinion. When people don’t quite understand all aspects of the scope of a field, they might misconstrue certain aspects. This can lead to them 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 are not adequately addressed. In such a scenario, more and more people start to believe it and act accordingly. A negative perception is a deterrent on the partnership and corporation between journalists and media entities. Negative perceptions, therefore, have far-reaching effects. The one remedy is to shed light on critical areas of the journalism sector. This illuminates the crucial role played by entities in the journalism industry.
Demystifying Journalism Myths
The upside to myths is that it is fairly simple to debunk them. All you really 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.
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 speech turns into violent actions against others.
It is imperative that certain checks and balances come into play for the industry to uphold 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 be taken 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, they will usually not provide sources or facts to backup their claims. Other newspapers or broadcasts go to great efforts to report facts 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 important. Steer clear of sources that never admit guilt or correct their mistakes. Readers maintain some responsibility of 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 free press. In others, the journalism industry has felt the full force of the law.
Orders have been made for 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 are apparently meant 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 be observed in order to remain on the acceptable side of all that is considered to be 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 demanding 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. There are a lot of interesting events that 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. On some occasions, 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. Laws 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 greater chance of success.
Myth #8: Technology Has Made Journalism a Walk in the Park
Fact: Technological advancement has made 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 true skill aren’t just posting large quantities of simple 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.
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 aren’t broken. Understanding how these myths came about and how to properly address them is critical for making sure we focus our efforts on areas that actually need improving.