What is journalism for?

In today's media and information landscape, news and journalism need to be redefined for the students.

ANNIE
ANNIE
Jan 16 · 5 min read

Introduction

The following introduction activities are designed to bring out the following talking points:

  • Rumors and gossips can be true or not true, but news should be fact-based (verified or verifiable information).
  • In today’s media landscape it is not easy at all to define what “news” is or what “journalism” is, however.
  • They then need to discuss 1) what compelled them to share the content, and 2) if any of the three items can be considered “news.”
  • Have them discuss what that world and society would look like in groups.
  • Ask each group to make a list of 5 things that would make such a world distinctively different from ours.
  • As a group, half of the class needs to define “news” in one sentence.
  • Ask the other half to define “journalism” in one sentence.
  • When all groups are done, compare the sentences.
  • As a class, discuss if there is any difference between “news” and “journalism.”
  • Then discuss if your country/community has any media organizations whose practices meet the definition of “journalism” in their view.

Definitions

The following are working definitions of what “news” is and what “journalism” is in the curricula we have developed.

  • and it is subject to a journalistic process of verification (which means news consists of information that has been verified or verifiable — based largely on facts, in other words);
  • and for which an independent individual or organization is directly accountable (which tells us that factualness of information is not enough because the factual news can still be one-sided or promotional or misleading. Independence and accountability set “journalism” apart from “news”).

Journalism is VITA

Vita is Latin for “life”. Modified from the Coursera course Making Sense of the News.
  • Independence: Freedom from the control, influence, or support of interested parties including oneself.
  • Transparency: Disclosure of interest, information sources, sponsorship, ownership, and other limiting factors in the editorial process.
  • Accountability: Acceptance of legal, moral, and ethical responsibility for one’s work.

An important note in the Asian context

Not many Asian countries have mature democracy or robust press freedom.

Exercise

Find news reports that meet the definition of journalism above and other reports that do not meet the requirement — on the same topic and by the same news outlet. Have students compare them and discuss what the differences are.

Key takeaways

  • Defining journalism is not easy. Thinking about what it should be, and why we need it that way, is arguably more important than having a fixed definition.
  • VITAL is our guide to evaluate the standard of journalistic content.
  • In order to critically look at the news media, both macro and micro perspectives are necessary, especially in the Asian context.

Other resources

Asian Network of News & Information Educators

A community to explore what’s essential in news education in Asia

Asian Network of News & Information Educators

We are all about experimental pedagogy. We know something is amiss in today’s information landscape but we don’t know what educational interventions would work effectively in our region until we try and measure.

ANNIE

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ANNIE

Official account of Asian Network of News & Information Educators

Asian Network of News & Information Educators

We are all about experimental pedagogy. We know something is amiss in today’s information landscape but we don’t know what educational interventions would work effectively in our region until we try and measure.