By: Lauren Kassien
The Columbia Journalism Review recently published an article about a “culture war” that is dividing journalists. On one side, we have the tried-and-true reporters, the ones who seek truth and report hard, unbiased facts. On the other, we have an emerging group of digital reporters. This is the army of Gen-Yers who say they care more about breaking the news first than taking the time to cover it accurately.
According to the SPJ Code of Ethics, reporting the truth is a journalist’s most basic job. But as today’s crop of young reporters pumps out stories about blonds going extinct and Bill Murray stopping a bank robbery in an attempt to go viral or break the news first, the core value that once shaped our industry is lost.
The author of the Columbia Journalism Review article argues that the future of journalism may involve a truce—one that establishes middle ground between these two warring types of reporting. As digital news continues to change, so does what’s considered “news.” At the end of the article, the author states, “What’s news is out there, whether or not it’s been checked and verified.”
While this shift in reporting values may reflect the changes in technology, it’s important that writers and editors still bear in mind their job: to inform readers. While getting the news out first has become increasingly important for publications today, is it acceptable to assume that readers will sort out any reporting oversights on their own? In order to find the truth, these readers may turn to other sources for answers. If this is the case, what does this say about the credibility of your publication? If readers are relying on other sources for information, what’s the point of your publication getting the news out in the first place?
What do you think? Is this change in reporting style is necessary for publications to survive in today’s fast-paced digital world? Or is the old-fashioned reporting model continue to be the best way to cover news?