2 August 2017 
Written by Sheetal Cross 

                    Journalist Sheetal Cross, shooting one of many episodes, for Trace Sports Stars International, on location in South Africa                                                                                                           
                                                                                                         PIC: Carmen Du Plooy (2015)

If you are a writing enthusiast or budding citizen journalist, you will probably want to know the ins and outs of journalism. To many, being a journalist or reporter as we are also known, is a very serious career choice. Why? Well, some define it as a life-changing opportunity.  Others see it as an opportunity to do good. As a print media journalist for over a decade, I can tell you this, with journalism, you can do more and be more now more than ever!

Some of the objectives of journalism are: 

  1. To unearth truths 
  2. Create awareness 
  3. Expose corruption 
  4. Inform the public  
  5. Be a watch dog of society 
  6. Protecting your sources 
  7. Investigate information that is in the public's best interest
  8. Report news in an ethical, legal, fair and balanced manner 
  9. Ensure that you follow journalism protocols that safeguard the rights and dignity of individuals in a story
  10. Avoid assumptions and report only from and on, facts 
  11. Do not defame individuals or businesses, through false reporting 
  12. Do not use your platform to report biasedly on issues that you favour
  13. Do not propel your own personal or political agenda, due to your influence 
  14. Maintain a healthy personal and professional, "on and off screen" persona 
  15. Gather and disseminate information for public consumption, without undue sensationalism
  16. Make a difference to peoples lives, telling the untold stories of different communities
  17. Remaining ethical and honouring that, "off-the-record", means off-the-record. Do not assure your source that information will remain confidential and then disclose their identity during your reporting, or to any third party.

The rise of technology and consequently, the evolution of mobile devices in recent years; has changed journalism and reporting. While extensively researching this subject, for my Masters in Journalism proposal this past year, I encountered a multitude of existing literature, that detailed the extent of those changes. 

The monopoly of communication that various mass media houses once held, including their control over reporting platforms, has shifted to the public sphere. Social media and other digital outlets, coupled with ease of access to information, through mobile devices and the internet, has allowed ordinary citizens to create and distribute their own unregulated content. This may appear in the form of YouTube videos, Blogs, Podcasts etc. 

Unfortunately, just because you are able to report newsworthy information, using multi-media (audio and visual) tools, does not make you a reporter or journalist. You may, however, refer to yourself or be referred to as a citizen or public journalist. In the wake of technology bombarding us at every turn, it has become easier to distribute information. It has also, in my experience, created a higher level of transparency. Therefore, there is truly an incessant need to consider some, if not all  of the above points raised, referring to the objectives of journalism. 

If you want to know more about the media industry, journalism, how to use your technology to do what journalists do, come back and join me for more blogs and advice.  

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