How Journalists compose their News

One of the most difficult things any journalist must be able to do is write a full blown story about a news item within a deadline. It seems simple enough; tell everyone what you know about a particular piece of information you have on paper, and do it in not more than five paragraphs at most on time. At the very least a journalist who is adept at writing in any language and has a vivid imagination could put down five paragraphs in a couple of minutes, yes?

Not exactly. You see, when writing a journalists has some basic yet tedious parameters to maneuver around. In the academic space they call these the Five W’s and One H. If you’ve not come across them then you’re cool but if you’ve had to do any form of academic research, or research that is investigative in nature you’ve at least heard this thrown about often enough. They are simply the words WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY AND HOW.

When a journalist is writing those five or more paragraphs, depending on the medium they’re using (normal print news, an online blog or editorial) they have to know and briefly but efficiently mention:

  • Who an event has happened to or is about?
  • What happened and might happen?
  • Where it happened?
  • When it happened and might happen
  • Why it happened?
  • How it happened?

It is simple enough to follow but requires in-depth knowledge relating to each point. You can’t write a story about someone when you don’t have a name at the very least, and you can’t write about a place or what anyone is doing there when you have no address. You simply can’t write an event when you don’t even know what’s going on, why it’s happening and even how it came to be. Its impossible, unless you put the time in to et te facts then sit down to compose your brief, yet in-depth news story.

These are very important to the journalist; if you’re not following them you’re writing a fictional piece which makes you a fiction writer, which is very cool, but not a news piece which is what a journalist is supposed to do.

The Journalist’s main function

Journalists are tasked with performing numerous functions within the public space for the sake of the society as a whole. These functions when done well make for a good journalist and ensures that the society in which they exist is democratic, liberal and free.

Now a journalist’s main function is to inform; it is the one function that matters more in journalism since the act of informing the public permeates all other functions they perform. They are gathering information; but whether they are performing record keeping functions, setting an agenda for what to discuss and whether that information they are discussing is on a government scandal, business stocks or the information is regarding a local city or another country, the main function of the every journalist is TO INFORM.

A good journalist will gather facts and write on subjects to communicate to the public any and all information in an official way and that is the role they play in the public space.

The Journalistic Profession

People today have doubts about the credibility of journalism when it is described as a profession. Scholars have sought to point out the mistakes that are made in the practice of journalism within the public space by those who have been given the responsibility of performing its functions to the benefit of the public they serve.

Now the word profession has several definitions as a synonym for occupation, which is any typically full-time activity defined in part by an easily recognizable body of knowledge, skill, and judgment or “discipline” by which one can earn a living. In recent years the standard of journalisms, journalists and media houses have come under fire because of the misplaced priorities of the current generation of holding the fort. With the commercialization of media houses profit making has taken over as the main function of journalism today. Journalists have taken to entertaining citizens instead of protecting their interests and wellbeing. Entertainment stories, click bait and tabloid sensationalism has come back with a vengeance from before, and is dominating the scene. These now serve as the matters of public interest since the media has trained citizens to not care about issues of reality and essence such as government and health issues.

A person of interest, named Brain McNairy, described a  journalist as an individual who is engaged in the activity of gathering, processing and disseminating information. To narrow it down to the specifics a journalist is an individual who is tasked with finding well sourced news worthy materials concerning the society at large and informing the society about itself, in all its diversity.

Journalists are tasked with serving the public interests of the citizens; and Public interest is simply anything that matters to every individual in the society. The interests of the public are the common good, security and their general welfare and is responsible for detecting and exposing crime and serious impropriety as well as protecting the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organization.

The ideologies of the current generation has negatively affected the two primary functions of the journalist at the moment. Journalists are no longer concerned with the fact checking and fact reporting that dominated the rules of proper Journalism before the start of the twenty first century. Journalists and their media houses have fallen into the habit of promoting sensationalism within their headlines, a abit tat proper journalism oped to combat. Journalists are supposed to perform their main purpose, which is simply to inform citizens with the facts regarding the society they live in as a whole. Doing this brings about an understanding of the state of affairs of the society and helps the citizens formulate opinions and self over themselves. Yet this task has fallen down the way side and been overtaken by the need to promote any story, whether factual or otherwise in an effort to stir emotions and bring in sales.

The performance of their watchdog role has also been jeopardized as media houses are now the spokespeople or individuals and organizations whose field of work clashes with the public interests of people.  Journalists have stopped caring about this role and have jeopardized the stability of democracy as well as freedom of their citizens by siding with politicians, rebel leaders, dictators and autocrats as well as capitalists organizations that often threaten the legitimacy of democracy in order to make profit. Our watch dogs are now hiding their deceit, misleading the citizens and promoting their self-interests.

How can journalists perform their role in serving the public interest? Journalists should provide citizens with information to form their own opinions and allow the citizens depend on them to perform a watchdog role in the society. They must simply report the truth, while maintaining an unbiased opinion in order to promote democracy. By doing this the journalist is serving the interest of the public and promoting the reality of a safe fully functional society.


A Journalist’s Duty

The journalistic practice, which involves the gathering and dissemination of news to an audience, can be thankful to a lot of journalistic authorities for how far the profession as come from its base beginnings. Now I’m stressing on some points I have learned about the profession about ow in 1923, the American Society of Newspaper Editors adopted an ethical code known as the Canons of Journalism to tackle sensationalism in newspapers at the time. There are seven of them of course, for those who are curious to know about the practice; namely Responsibility, Freedom of the press, Independence, Sincerity, truthfulness, accuracy, Impartiality, Fair play, and Decency. I want to create the briefest of dialogues on the first cannon; responsibility, which I personally feel is the most important of the seven.

The Cambridge dictionary defines responsibility as something that it is your job or duty to deal with. To have responsibility is to be in a position to make certain that particular things are done. Journalists have a bunch of responsibilities while performing their functions. It is their responsibility to report and inform but to do so in a way that protects the welfare of their audience. From its beginnings information was used to hype and promote to the masses; with only a vast minority who were literate caring for news that informed and sought to educate them on the happenings of the world. Journalists then were not often held responsible for what they printed and reported often printing stories of wonder and mystique about gossip, attractions and slander in order to make quick money and build their reputation as information peddlers; but in 2019 a journalist’s credibility depends very much on his ability to look out for the wellbeing of his audience. A journalist must report te news in a way that does not cause arm or distress to an audience. It must accurate, it must be released at the right and it even should be taken down or held back if IT DOES NOT serve the public’s interest.

It is important to point out that journalists are at liberty to say, publish and print anything they feel is newsworthy in the press, but it comes with a caveat. Journalists must maintain a level of responsibility for the news they bring to light, making sure they have their audience’s wellbeing in mind, in order to keep the trust of the public.


The Benefit of Acknowledging Imperfection.

We have been trained, rather wrongly, to see ourselves as protagonists of our own fate. We create the fantasy that we are weary travelers of a journey we should overcome with ease. We believe fate owes our faith moments of brilliance; where everything is solved with minimal effort on our part. And finally we believe we are the good guys in the story that is our life.

It is an unfortunate but the fact that we have consciousness means we develop an egocentric sense of self that becomes unhealthy as we age. We nurture it around a belief system; give it aims and ideals to follow and enter a battle of wills with the rest of society, trying to prove its worth.

That in itself is not a bad thing but we forget that we are not perfect. We live trying to create moments of brilliance around us; we talk about accomplishments, we adore the praise of others and show off as proof of our great strength. We value the idea that we are master and hero of our story and mould that into inflated, righteous egos. We decide that we are special and thus we are perfect.

What we should do is identify our imperfections and build our lives around correcting them. It is important to acknowledge our moments of failure as much as we do for our brilliant moments. We learn from everything we do. And when our bad moments arise we learn particularly from the criticisms, from our bad choices and from the consequences.

Those who put aside their insecurities, selfish ideals and self-righteous, narcissistic tendencies are closer to perfection. They look directly at their faults and frailties in order to conquer them. They acknowledge where they are lacking in order to improve. And they understand that they are just normal people; that they aren’t special. They just live, improving themselves every day, defending what they know with passion and taking their defeats sportingly and in good faith. They learn from the mistakes of those defeats and move on determined to do better.

Musings #1

It can be hard for most people, especially the open, conscientious types, to understand how depending on dogmatic belief systems can work out for the good of society. Everyone around them has unique beliefs, and is determined to stick to the idea of having never changing viewpoints, yet those same people make the claim that anyone who disagrees with their own views is simply dogmatic and closed minded.

It is to be expected; when we don’t take the time to acknowledge that we all might have been raised to believe in numerous, unique yet fundamental absolutes, and that we don’t know how to make concise, well thought out arguments to support those absolutes, we eventually take another’s opposing viewpoints on issues and beliefs we are invested in, completely out of context, and take very real offense with them. When our views on particular issues shape our very existence especially, it is hard to watch them crumble easily in an argument. And it is even harder to see any individual, who is dismantling and aggressively stamping on those viewpoints we hold so dear to our Hearts, get plaudits for, in our minds, being so very wrong so very effectively.

Sadly most people will never examine the reason behind why they get so flustered, and are prone to anger in times when their viewpoints are being challenged. They will instead feel justified to continue making arguments in a destructive manner.
But such is the way of life. Our task always has been and will certainly always be to learn and continuously shape our views. They can’t be constant and unflinching in an ever changing and incredibly fickle world that seeks to re-examine every viewpoint for benefit of human beings as a whole. It makes for better arguments, it makes for a better way of living and it helps us understand eachother. That is infinitely more preferable than throwing barbs and leaving our tempers unchecked.

The Point of Our Mistakes.

Making mistakes is a normal part of being alive, not something we should be rid of. We might have taken the time to count our every step, gone over the details of our schedules and routines time and time again, and forced our minds to accept a single path as what fate, careful planning and hard work has bestowed upon us, but that isn’t always the case. In spite of our best laid plans, we end up making the occasional blunder, or two or two dozen, that ruins everything. And we cannot be pleased with our mistakes; we don’t wish for them, and we especially don’t handle them very well – but all the same, we will end up making them. It is to some benefit then, that with the right kind of mindset, we eventually come to the realisation that there are two important things we notice after making enough mistakes; That life doesn’t pan out exactly the way we want it, and, That we can only get better after learning from our mistakes. They are the price of success.

We don’t realize that the effect of our mistakes matter; it is from their consequences that we learn about ourselves and those around us. We are unaware of this and feel that being perfect, having no faults, and making zero number of mistakes is the best way of life. We refuse to accept that it is way better to accept that there is always a possibility that we might, either forget where we placed that dime to add to our dollar, or even lose our personal journal and the two week’s worth of writing ideas in them at sometime. We can’t avoid them, even when try, and shouldn’t feel the need to wish we had never made them. And we certainly shouldn’t fixate on the mistakes and deem ourselves completely worthless after. No, What we should be doing is acknowledging those exact feelings we go through after our mistakes in order to deal with them in an appropriate manner. After realising that we are prone to moments of absentmindedness and complacency, it is very necessary that we brace ourselves for the periods of regret and rebuke that follow. We should let go of our preset disposition to simply expect mainly sympathy for our plight, and stop ourselves from hating the hurtful comments as well as those people lamenting about our errors. Their words might actually hold some truth, if only we are willing to consider them. We also shouldn’t let the shame we feel for our carelessness break our resolve, but infact accept the guilt, rebuke and criticism; they play in increasing our success and survival in the future. It is only when we allow ourselves to experience them, and consider what exactly to do about them that we will eventually mature and get better at not repeating them.

It is important to know the true essence of the mistakes we make in our daily lives. Without them, we would’t be wiser; We wouldn’t be vigilant of our environment or even conscious of our mental and physical well being. Our senses would be dull, and we would be naïve to some of our inadequacies. Without the occasional mistakes, our minds wouldn’t be sharp. Without properly acknowledging our fear of them, as well as the feelings they leave us with, we would simply become complacent. And it is in that state of complacency that we are vulnerable when life decides to test our resolve. It is then that we make mistakes. Fortunately for us, it is after making them that we also learn from them.