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Exercising conscience

Journalism 4990
Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley hit the nail on the head. "The ability of journalists to exercise conscience is much more important than anything they believe or any beliefs they bring to their job," she said. "It's credibility, more than objectivity, that's important for us in our industry. ... There has to be a culture in newsrooms that allows a journalist to have a free and open discussion." There are a few ideas here, so I'll briefly discuss each. Having good ethics and making good judgment calls is essential for journalists to be successful and perpetuate journalistic ideals. It doesn't matter whether a journalist votes red or blue or whether that person believes in a higher power; those beliefs can be put aside when reporting on an issue. I don't know this…
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Understanding audience and metrics

Journalism 4990
Audience and metrics talk was not at all what I expected in the "Elements" chapter about keeping the news comprehensive and proportional, but I'm so glad it was in there. Sure, there are some people who still haven't jumped on the metrics train, but I think that's silly; having this kind of information at our disposal can be incredibly valuable in enhancing coverage and the overall user experience — if the information is used correctly. I would argue that understanding metrics, and how they can best be used, is an ongoing process for all. As with any data set, there are a lot of ways that analytics data can be skewed and presented out of context. And as the book mentions, it's a huge struggle for many to figure out…
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Journalism’s scientific method

Journalism 4990
I wrote the following essay in Journalism and Democracy, my senior capstone class at the Missouri School of Journalism. In it, I reflect on ethical experiences I've encountered in journalism and what I've learned from them. Verification. It's the difference between rumor and account. It's about never assuming and always confirming. It's about knowing what you know, knowing what you don't know and knowing what you don't know whether you know. I consider accuracy to be of the utmost importance, and to achieve that, journalists must verify information; as Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel preach in "The Elements of Journalism," the field's essence is the discipline of verification. I also think accuracy is often taken for granted. When one purchases The New York Times, one expects the content in there to be factual.…
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‘Making the significant interesting and relevant’

Journalism 4990
This "Elements" chapter addressed a lot of hot questions in the industry right now: Where's the balance — if there is one — between crime pieces and cat GIFs? How can we get people to read our content and glean useful information from it? How can we keep them coming back? I always forget Vox just celebrated its first Voxiversary (no, I didn't make that up), so I was pleased to see that Ezra Klein's views of the news as a Washington Post employee are very similar to the structure of today's viral media outlet. I liked how he referred to the straightforward, explanatory nature of his work as trying to "eliminate the cognitive anxiety of the reader" — in other words, making it as easy as possible for people to…
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Journalism’s literal public forum

Journalism 4990
I'm fascinated that newsrooms used to provide a literal public forum for people. Starting in 1840, the Houston Star invited residents to grab "a good glass, an interesting paper and a pleasant cigar" in its lobby. People could gather there and talk freely. It was a good place to spark conversation or debate. These types of places continued for more than 100 years. I'm even more interested in how ending something like this could have changed journalism. Yes, people still can write to the newspaper or make a phone call. But what if one is afraid to write a piece that could be published? I'm surprised at how anxious potential contributors to the Missourian's From Readers section can be about their writing, and whether it's "good enough." What if someone wants a guaranteed insightful conversation…
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