The second principle is about journalists’ loyalty to citizens. When journalists are doing reports, it is important that they should be independent from any non-citizen-concerned factors, such as media ownership influence or commercial interests. Their coverage should be straight and objective, avoiding “self-interested or slanted for friends” or people who buys an ad.
Chapter four is the part that I am engaged in most during reading this book, and there are several practice skills that I suppose are very useful in journalistic practice. The chapter mainly talks about the third principle—“The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification.” The methodology of Verification is essential for journalists to build the credibility among citizens. The author also mentions that the frequently discussed terms like “bias,” “objectivity,” “fairness,” “balance,” should have new meanings. Different from the common opinions, the author suggests replacing the word “objectivity” with “thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and transparency.” And the author also argues that it is hard to avoid bias, which is part of human nature. I especially agree with his thoughts that “Fairness” and “balance” are not aims, but means that assist us to achieve truth. As the author illustrates, some stories cannot be equally split or have an equal number of quotes from different sides.
The fourth principles relates to maintaining independence from those journalists cover. This principle has been mentioned once when the author talks about the obligation of truth. In chapter five, the author expands the scope of journalists’ independence and discusses it in great detail. Journalists should be independent from commercial interests, media ownership and those people or events they cover. When they select stories, they should also be independent form bias of class or economic status.
Besides, I have also enjoyed learning professional skills as a journalist from the book “The Element of Journalism.” For example, the author mentions in the first chapter, the primary purpose of journalism is relatively consistent through history, which is “to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.” Journalists should focus on widest social communities—not just on special interests’ groups, such as expert elite or politicians. But deadline pressure and business pressure make media practitioners more driven by commercial interests rather than the original purpose of providing the truth for citizens. These phenomena make me realize that sometimes, we need to strive to keep the purpose of journalism in mind and keep the obligation of journalism in practice, no matter what kind of pressures are. Because informing citizens of truth is the root of journalism, which if we give up, journalism will lose its essence and is not able to positively contribute to the society.
Also Chapter four is the part that I am engaged in most during reading this book, and the argument that author has made that it is hard to avoid bias, which is part of human nature is what I especially agree with. I also agree with his thoughts that “Fairness” and “balance” are not aims, but means that assist us to achieve truth. As the author illustrates, some stories cannot be equally split or have an equal number of quotes from different sides. I think these ideas can help me reasonably understanding the word “objectivity” and avoid pursuing it stiffly in my practice. Because, as the book states, sometimes balancing stories which cannot be balanced equally is not a true reflection of reality. Thus, when I do my reporting coverage, my balance will follow the nature situation of the stories and assign quotes from different sides in the proportion that best reflect the true pictures.