• September 21st, 2020

Weekly takeaway with Lawrence Kamwi - Revisiting journalism’s distinctive character, aims and ambitions

The Media Today, which is written by the Columbia Journalism Review, recently contemplated what it calls the “logistical and ethical challenges of sports reporters’ restart.” Among its observations, it argues that journalists are preparing for a return of professional sports at a time when the health environment is still wrestling with the same challenges it faced in the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 
“For sports reporters covering the restart, access restrictions haven’t just persisted since the start of the pandemic – they’ve intensified. Members of the press are still banned from getting too close to players and staff, and in the absence of such informal opportunities to chat, interviews are often mediated by a public relations representative, or by Zoom.”

The requirement for compliance with social distancing guidelines has provided some accidental light-hearted and funny moments. Reporter Steve Politi writes about a malfunctioning device that was used for temperature checks on his trip to Yankee Stadium.
   “Two journalists were turned away after temperature checks registered they had a fever. A third insisted that he felt fine...a supervisor finally looked at the digital reading. It was one hundred and eight degrees Fahrenheit (42,2 degrees Celsius). This either meant the thermometer needed to be recalibrated or we all had a much more significant story to cover.”

Politi’s story gives much-needed comic relief to the reader. Yet I wish to suggest that it should be viewed as proof of the big picture of journalism’s dogged and never-say-die push for plain and absolute truth. This is a requirement that is felt more acutely in a world that is in a non-stop search for answers that may mean the difference between health and sickness, life and death.
Indeed, at the beginning of the year, one trending forecast was on the need for media, which would be united in giving credible news to readers and viewers.

In a year in which news has grudgingly regained its pride of place, the need for accurate reporting cannot be overemphasised. In the half-year, which has consumed the world, news reigns as the indispensable, overweight, and still easily confusing commodity. 
In her review of the Reuters Institute Report on Journalism and Media Trends in 2020, Charlotte Peytour comments that “we also need content which explores good-faith politics, what might be working, how policy develops and makes a difference. Otherwise, we will push our audiences to disengage and distrust politics even more.” 

The need for believable and fact-checked news reports in situations that have often changed in the proverbial twinkle of an eye is, therefore, journalism’s ever-present objective. 
  Y. Rivera Ledee has written “in these untrusting times, it is more important than ever to ensure that all the information presented to readers and viewers is credible. By combating fake news with impartial, timely reporting, media professionals can rebuild trust, story by story.”
As the year has unfolded, it has also become crystal clear that journalism has the distinct challenge of reaching out to those who call themselves news-avoiders while also rekindling the faith of the population that was feeling a news-fatigue.  
Accordingly, Josh Stearns has congratulated “newsrooms that are expanding their reporting, dropping their paywalls, and investing in creative ways to meet community information needs and hold leaders accountable.”  

Staff Reporter
2020-08-07 10:57:33 | 1 months ago

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