The Two W's of Journalism: The Why and What of Public Affairs Reporting

The Two W's of Journalism: The Why and What of Public Affairs Reporting

The Two W's of Journalism: The Why and What of Public Affairs Reporting

The Two W's of Journalism: The Why and What of Public Affairs Reporting

Synopsis

In this timely volume, the authorsnbsp;explore public affairs journalism, a practice that lies at the core of the journalism profession. They go beyond the journalistic instruction for reporting and presenting news to reflect on why journalism works the way it does. Asking current and future journalists the critical questions, "Why do we do it?" and "What are the ways of fulfilling the goals of journalism?" their discussion stimulates the examination of contemporary practice, probing the foundations of public affairs journalism. With its detailed examination of factors influencing current journalistic practice, The Two W's of Journalism complements and expands on the skills and techniques presented in reporting, editing, and news writing textbooks. The perspectives presented here facilitate understanding of the larger role journalism has in society. As such, the volume is an excellent supplemental text for reporting and writing courses, and for introductory courses on journalism. It will also offer valuable insights to practicing journalists.

Excerpt

Public affairs journalism is a subcategory of all journalism, but it lies at the core of the profession because the practice of journalism is, finally, inseparable from the practice of democracy. Doing journalism of any sort requires two important sets of talents—reporting the news and presenting the news. For the most part, journalists' understanding of how to report the most relevant events and situations of the moment is based on the traditions and routines expressed in news values and news beats. Those notions of how to present this news also are grounded in the honed norms and routines of the newsroom.

Implementing these two sets of talents largely defines the working days of professional journalists. Teaching these talents to future journalists largely defines the working days of professors in journalism schools. in neither situation is there much time left over to reflect on why journalism does its work in these particular ways even though the current modes of reporting and presenting the news are far from the only available options.

Increasingly, questions are asked about whether these talents are being put to the best possible use. in some cases, these questions even suggest that the current implementation of these talents has significant negative consequences for society.

The purpose of this book is considerably more than to add another voice to the critical chorus. Rather, its purpose is to probe the foundations of public affairs journalism, to bring to the forefront the core professional question of “why do we do it?” and then to build on the goals identified there by asking “what are the ways of fulfilling those goals?”

For newsrooms, the aim of this book is to stimulate the examination of contemporary practice in light of these foundations. in the classroom, the aim of this book is to complement reporting, editing and news writing textbooks and the essential training in journalistic skills with a detailed understanding of journalism's larger end. As the nation settles into this new century and its cacophony of journalistic voices, explicit elaboration of the foundations of journalism is essential in both of these settings.

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