Friday, January 18, 2008

What is journalism anyway?

What is Journalism anyway?

Journalism is the discipline of gathering, writing and reporting news, and broadly it includes the process of editing and presenting the news articles. Journalism applies to various media, but is not limited to newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.

While under pressure to be the first to publish its stories, each news media organization adheres to its own standards of accuracy, quality, and style — usually editing and proofreading its reports prior to publication. Many news organizations claim proud traditions of holding government officials and institutions accountable to the public, while media critics have raised questions on the accountability of the press.

The word journalism is taken from the French journal which in turn comes from the Latin diurnal or daily; The Acta Diurna, a handwritten bulletin, was put up daily in the Forum, the main public square in ancient Rome, and was the world's first newspaper.

News-oriented journalism was described by former Washington Post editor, Phil Graham, as "a first rough draft of history", because journalists often record important historical events as they are happening, but at the same time, they must produce their news articles on short deadlines.

Journalism's activities include stating What, When, Where, How, and Why, famously quoted by Rudyard Kipling (see the Five Ws), and stating the significance and effects of certain events or trends. Journalism exists in a number of media: newspapers, television , radio, magazines and, most recently, the World Wide Web through the Internet.

Journalists report and write on a wide variety of subjects: politics on the international, national, provincial and local levels, economics and business on the same four levels, health and medicine, education, sports, hobbies and recreation, lifestyles, clothing, food, pets, and relationships; journalists report on anything that news organizations think consumers will read. Journalists can report for general interest news outlets like newspapers, news magazines and broadcast sources; general circulation specialty publications like trade and hobby magazines, or for news publications and outlets with a select group of subscribers. Journalists are usually expected and required to go out to the scene of a story to gather information for their reports, and often may compose their reports in the field. They also use the telephone, the computer and the internet to gather information. However, more often those reports are written, and they are almost always edited in newsrooms, the offices where journalists and editors work together to prepare the content of news items.

Journalists, especially if they cover a specific subject or area (a 'beat') are expected to cultivate sources, people in the subject or area, that they can communicate with, either to explain the details of a story, or to provide leads to other subjects for stories yet to be reported. They are also expected to develop their investigative skills to research and report stories better.

Print journalism can be split into several categories: newspapers, news magazines, general interest magazines, trade magazines, hobby magazines, newsletters, private publications, online news pages and others. Each genre can have its own requirements for researching and writing reports.

For example, newspaper journalists in the United States have traditionally written reports using the inverted pyramid style, although this style is used more for straight or hard news reports rather than features. Written hard news reports are expected to be spare in the use of words, and to list the most important information first, so that if the story must be cut because there is not enough space for it, the least important facts will be automatically removed. Editors usually ensure that reports are written with as few words as possible. Feature stories are usually written in a looser style which usually depends on the subject matter of the report, and are in general granted more space (see Feature-writing below).

News magazine and general interest magazine articles are usually written in different styles, with less emphasis on the inverted pyramid. Trade publications can be more news-oriented, while hobby publications can be more feature-oriented.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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