We Need Journalists

Opinion piece by a journalism student

Words, opinion and research by Valley Lizard

Rumours, gossip and fake news. Who is to blame? Ordinary people or journalists? Who spreads it?

All these things are a common part of society. The internet now allows gossip to spread and grow into fake news. Many people blame the news media or social media for fake news. The reality is more complicated because it’s like a soufflé. Making a souffle involves lots of ingredients, which are small on their own. Once these ingredients are combined they create something bigger, however a souffle is mostly full of air and the things of real value are hidden inside the airy mixture. Yes I used this metaphor because I’m a Doctor Who fan and mainly enjoy Souffle’s because of Souffle Girl aka Clara.

In a time when information is everywhere and easily accessible it can be hard to know what to believe. With more ways to consume media comes a variety of media styles. Some, like news media, are meant to inform, while others are entertain their audiences or persuade them to do something (e.g. advertising, activists etc.). Many of the styles and techniques used by these industries overlap, making hard to tell the difference.

Advertising often paid or helped pay for the production of news media. The world is changing at a pace so fast the laws and ethical standard simply cannot keep up. News stories themselves change quickly as new information is discovered. It can seem like we live in a world of lies and uncertainty.

The term ‘face news’ has become popularised in the media leading people to think misinformation is a new thing spurred on by the internet and social media. What I think has happened is people are now more informed. In many countries the average person is expected to be able to read and write. Even if this is true in your country media literacy, as in reading the media, often isn’t taught. Learning to understand the media, including social media is a daunting task.

Now maybe if the internet has been around your whole life media literacy may come easier to you, but it’s still an important skill which needs nurturing. The invention of online media has completely changed how we consume information. With this news media has and needs to continuously adapt and change. What should remain the same is the core values behind journalism.

New ways to share information shouldn’t mean we compromise on our values. While media law has adapted and changed the reasons we need or want news hasn’t changed. Journalists should demonstrate similar or better values to 100 years ago.

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