Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Comprehensive and Proportional Journalism

In the chapters I read from The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, I learned about the naked body and the guitar. Actually, as the title of this post says, I learned about the need for journalists to keep their reporting comprehensive and proportional. They compared this to cartography – if the figures on a map are either bigger or smaller than they are in real life, it distorts the way people deal with it.

The naked body and the guitar analogy is about hyped news. The idea is that if you want people to notice you, you can go outside and strip. People will definitely notice that. However, you can’t keep people that way. If you want to keep people, you can play a guitar on the street. If you’re good enough, the crowd of people watching you will grow. (Of course, you could do both.) The point is, hyped journalism may draw attention but it won’t keep it. Good journalism will.

One thing that some reporters do that make people think a story is hyped is show emotion on air. Anderson Cooper is well known for this, and I found a video clip where he defends showing emotion in public. It’s true that some people may hype their emotions to make the story more interesting, but sometimes a human reporter will have a human reaction to a story, particularly if it touches on something close to them personally. I think a reporter showing some emotion while maintaining professionalism is not out of bounds; rather, I think it shows that journalists are not robots and that they care about the citizen. And isn’t serving the citizen what journalism is all about?

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