Sunday, 22 July 2012

Elements of Journalism for Dummies

The stuff Journalism is made up of

What are the 'Elements of Journalism?' Volumes and library-thick discourses throughout history offer a good idea on what characterizes Journalism, and broadly the role of journalists. 

Personally, I love what the feisty Nagaland Page’s chief Monalisa Changkija – during an interaction years ago – said of journalism: Old-school journalism – Just speak the truth.

The intrinsic values of the very purpose of journalism are summed up in The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. The book is considered the one authority for reference for all aspiring journalists – with a reminder that all journalists are humans; and so, are essentially biased.  

The Elements of Journalism lists a number of imperatives that represent the very spirit of Journalism, its purpose and goal. These elements are not necessarily exceptions nor are they rules unto themselves. 

They are more of a rationalization of the paradigms, I believe, that completely represent the central tenets of purpose, rather than intent. They are pragmatic standards for newsmen I say.

Put simply: 

The elements of Journalism say that:
  • The first contract of Journalism and Journalists is with Truth
  • Their first loyalty is to the Citizen and to Citizenry
  • Journalists are independent, and must maintain independence from any influence, individual, organization or government
  • Journalism is independent check-and-balance, the monitor
  • Journalism should provide the public a platform to opine and criticize
  • Journalists must be allowed to exercise personal conscience (I believe this element supplements point ‘5’ by principle and not merely complement it).

Considering the immutable changes in value-moderation contemporary journalism has undergone, ‘truth’ today almost sounds a feeble defense to shut up the proletarian purists and feed the socialist-tweaking elitist. Global economic compulsions and handy socio-political tensions that stormed the advent of the 21st century have forced new paradigms in value-moderation. 

Sadly, reality is that both the society and its messengers continue to struggle in 'trying' to embody the truth which the Elements of Journalism seek to present. In other words, 'plain truth' - as opposed to 'fact' has yet to find expression in modern world's information exchange. Come to think of it: If you read the Elements of Journalism you will find just one word: Truth. Plain Truth. Nothing else.

©2012 Al Ngullie 
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