Monday, 17 December 2012

What are the ‘Elements of Journalism’?

Summary of the Elements of Journalism


The ‘Elements of Journalism’ is a set of professional and ethical standards journalists are expected to fulfill in the course of dispensing news and information to the public. Equally, the set of ‘elements’ seeks to explain the larger positive goals of journalism. In other words, the intrinsic values of the very purpose and standard of journalism are summed up as the Elements of Journalism.

The ‘elements’ were first proposed by US journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their popular book Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and What to Expect. Published in 2006, the book is now considered the topmost authority for reference and resource for every journalist – and those aspiring to be one.

The Elements of Journalism

The Elements of Journalism lists a number of imperatives that represent the very spirit of Journalism, its purpose and goal.

According to the book, there are nine elements of Journalism:

1.      Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
2.      Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens.
3.      Journalism’s essence is a discipline of verification.
4.      Practitioners of journalism must maintain an independence from those they cover.
5.      Journalism must serve as an independent monitor of power.
6.      Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
7.      Journalism must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
8.      Journalism must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
9.      Practitioners of journalism must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.


The ‘Elements of Journalism’ are not necessarily exceptions nor are they rules unto themselves. They are more of a rationalization of ethical paradigms, which completely represent the central tenets of purpose rather than intent, for journalists. They are pragmatic standards for newsmen as much as they are principles that embody the aspiration of peoples for a freer, more democratic, productive and progressive society.

©2012 Al Ngullie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.