Rethinking Journalism

Journalism and the government have one thing in common right now. Trust is in the gutter.

At least 57% of us lack confidence in these powerful institutions (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017). In the wake of the divisive election and a future of uncertainties, we have to ask ourselves: how do we reclaim trust and reshape journalism to flex with the needs of our society?

Objectivity — is it attainable?

Being human, we’re innately subjective. Objectivity is merely a pretense that we might strive for, but our bias still finds little corners to hide in. So, do we strive for it at all?

Some people say they are tired of hearing the media’s opinions, “just give us the facts.” Others say, “take a back seat Objectivity and let Transparency drive for a while.”

Whichever side of the objective fence you’re on, the one thing that is never open to adaptation is the facts. Fairness to the facts fosters trust and credibility. If you find yourself omitting relevant facts and faking others, you probably need to recalibrate your moral compass. You may also be a jerk, but you are not a journalist.


Some journalists are redefining their role in society. Conventionally, we leaned on an assumption or a preconceived idea to begin a story. I wonder how many reporters pre-wrote their piece on Hillary Clinton winning the election only to face the mind-bending shock that she would concede to the star of The Apprentice. Or in the case of CUNY journalists launching an investigative report and community engagement project based on the assumption that mold was the prevalent problem for NYC public housing residents, to discover at the end, it wasn’t in fact the most urgent issue for the community.

The lesson? Don’t make assumptions — ever. Ask instead, where is your pain? What do you need to meet your goals?

As Jeff Jarvis put it, “Media properly received is a conversation.”

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

It’s time to flip traditional Journalism on its head and Social Journalism was born to do that. This new model is about service. Its impact hinges on forming collaborative connections with our sources. Relationships are paramount and social journalists will succeed in making a difference when we listen closely and empower community members to inform us of their needs. Armed with empathy and understanding, we can then share their stories with our audience and begin to influence meaningful change.

So it’s time to seize the opportunity. We are needed now more than ever to connect with communities, those we understand and even those we don’t (that’s the real skill), and offer people stories that are relevant to them and tailored across the digital platforms they are using to stay informed.

So, goodbye to one-size-fits-all news. Hello personal, highly relevant, community-changing Social Journalism!

Jeff Jarvis makes the case for Social Journalism