Journalism: The vital importance of self criticism

Some days, especially when you’re chest deep into a story, keeping across the day’s news events can be a struggle.

But doing so, and staying glued not just to the events around us and to the myriad ways in which those stories are being told is, I believe, vital.

So too is keeping abreast of the developments in the news industry itself. In fact, it has never been more important.

The state of the news industry is precarious. Newspapers are collapsing like trees in a hurricane. With ever greater demands made of ever fewer journalists, the differences between press releases and news reports get ever narrower. Personally I believe the onset of ‘churnalism’ 10 or 15 years ago has played a vital role in lowering the public’s estimation of the news industry. 

Original insightful journalism is being done, and being done brilliantly. But such pieces are roses in fields of weeds.

So, with the current seemingly universal assault on the ‘mainstream news’ and dullard accusations of ‘fake news’ in the face of sourced facts, we have arrived at a critical point in the field of journalism.

Far from meeting this challenge with doom and gloom, I honestly believe the here and now offers the opportunity of a journalistic renaissance. But it starts with journalists asking themselves the same questions their idealist selves did when they first entered the profession: What is good journalism, why does what I do matter and how can I make it matter more?

Taking time out to reposition ourselves on our work, taking inspiration from the efforts and accomplishments of others and constantly seeking to improve our own output are valuable exercises in themselves. But if all journalists were doing this more regularly, I believe the industry’s output could become extraordinary and meet the very great informational needs of a rightfully expectant public.

By way of suggestions for kick-starting the reflection process, here are a handful of picks.

About Journalism:

Nieman Lab

The Poynter Institute

Story telling:

This American Life


Online News Awards – check out the examples in the winners and finalists

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