The Shadow World: Life between the News Media and Reality

The Shadow World: Life between the News Media and Reality

The Shadow World: Life between the News Media and Reality

The Shadow World: Life between the News Media and Reality

Synopsis

Willis examines the factors that contribute to the journalist's often faulty perception of reality, factors that are beyond the immediate control of the reporter. These include errant sources, competitive influences, the embedding process of storytelling, marketing's influence on the news, and the structure of news stories. The book stresses the difficulties of reporting and points out that the best reporters are those who will take time to recognize challenges and work to overcome them. Ideal as a supplementary text for advanced journalism courses in reporting, The Shadow World focuses on the complexities of good reporting.

Excerpt

To a young journalist starting out on a reporting career, the road ahead usually seems straighter than to a more experienced traveler. Fresh from journalism school, the novice still recalls those classroom reporting lectures and the journalism texts that seem to boil the reporting task down to mastering some essential skills. Observe soundly, double-check your facts, stay detached from the story, use proper style and grammar, put the piece into an inverted pyramid format, and you will have a solid piece of journalism to show for it all. If he can somehow do all these things, the young reporter feels he should be successful in portraying accurate pictures of events as they occur. Good reporting thus becomes somewhat formulaic. Do this and that, and you should have a good snapshot of reality. There even seems to be a basic formula for objectivity: Avoid becoming involved in the event, form no prejudicial friendships with actors in the event, leave your own biases at the foot of the stage, and consider yourself the impartial observer for the vast public who cannot personally attend the drama.

Winning the battle, but not the war

At the risk of appearing to minimize these important skills, I would suggest they alone will not get the traveler to the final destination--if that destination is a truthful portrayal of reality. There are still too many obstacles lying in the reporter's path, many of which the journalist has little control over. They must be recognized, and that is the purpose of this book. Since psychologists tell us that recognition of the problem is a large part of the solution itself, it should help the journalist to understand more about the extremely difficult task he or she faces in presenting reality to the public. If the reporter's destination is something less than . . .

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