Duties & Responsibilities of Journalists
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Working as a journalist is not a job to be taken lightly. Journalists have a duty to report the news thoroughly and without bias. If you aspire to be the mouthpiece for your audience, understand your role, your audience and the power of your words. Strive every day to uphold the journalistic integrity that comes with the power of the pen and work to achieve the goal of delivering the most complete and balanced story possible to your audience.
Upholding the Truth through Verification
A journalist is responsible for reporting the truth, not because he is inherently unbiased but because he upholds the importance of objective verification. This means that he should consistently test every fact used in his story, including researching all information shared with him by his sources, according to the Pew Research Journalism Project. A strict adherence to verification ensures that personal and cultural biases don't sneak in and take over reporting.
A journalist's report should be unbiased, according to Pew's Principles of Journalism. This means that if he has a financial interest in his subject, he should give the report to someone else. If the company that owns a news agency has a financial interest in a story, the agency should take extra care to ensure its reporting is not affected. A journalist's report should present all sides and all viewpoints on a matter. He should seek more than one source for a story to ensure that multiple sides are represented. If someone comments on a person, he should seek to get the other person's response.
Serving the Public as a Watchdog
The journalist's duty is to the public, not the government. Journalists are sometimes referred to as the fourth branch of the U.S. government for this very reason. They should hold the government and others in power accountable to the citizens. By being independent from the government, they can monitor power and serve as an information source and not a propaganda mouth. Journalists serve as a watchdog to balance government power and hold it accountable to its citizens.
Forum for Public Comment
The journalist provides a forum for public comment, according to Pew. It allows an avenue for criticizing the government and corporations. Journalists help stir up discussions that might later lead to change and problem solving. But by serving as a point of public discussion, journalists must strive to represent all sides of the discussion, not only the richest or loudest voices.
As Pew Research states, journalists create a type of map of events, making it easier for citizens to navigate through the important research. They must strive for proportion in reporting, not overly sensationalizing entertaining stories or neglecting important issues for the purpose of getting more viewers. A news agency that hires a diverse staff can more easily achieve such diverse reporting.
Making Important News Interesting
A news agency must engage its audience to get them to tune in. But it also must find ways to make significant stories interesting, so that readers and viewers don't miss out on what they need to know, the Pew Research project states. It should frame important world events in ways that will be relevant to its audience, while still getting the most important messages across.
Personal Conscience in Reporting
The overarching ethics of journalism should not override each individual journalist's personal ethics and conscience. A good news agency should allow reporters to have differences of opinion, as this can lead to more diverse reporting, according to Pew Research. Individuals should be able to voice their concerns in the newsroom and be governed by their personal conscience. Diversity should be sought in this way without simply trying to get higher ratings from day to day.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.