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Investigative Journalism

Before proceeding with the post, we first define what Investigative Journalism is. According to Jones (2009), investigative journalism is referred to as the most difficult type of journalism and is ranked at the top of the reporting chain. As Daniel and his group mates have put forward during the seminar presentation, it is not only time-consuming and dangerous, it also requires great expertise. Investigative journalism includes revealing corruption, especially in governmental and officials’ levels and scrutinizing the neglected corners of the society. It exemplifies the common ideal of the news media being the fourth estate which plays the role of a watchdog for the society.

Furthermore, Jones (2009) also added that investigative journalism should always be done “in the face of efforts to keep information secret” (p. 5). One quote that I came across while researching about investigative journalism is from John Pilger, one of those who covered the Vietnam War and felt disdainful about the way British media actually covered foreign stories in the 1990s. He said,

Investigative journalists are people who should lift rocks, look behind screens, never accept the official point of view or never believe anything until it is officially denied. The ‘Pentagon Papers’ and the ‘My Lai massacre’ stories told you how the US war system was working; they revealed how people manipulated that system to cause such havoc. If the Kosovo bombing had happened in the 1960s journalists would have investigated how it came about and whose interests it serves; today the British press is degraded by its ludicrous drum beating and rhetorical jingoism (Pilger, 1999, as cited in Burgh, 2000, p. 294).

Also, integral to the concept of investigative journalism is that it is the kind of news that influential people do not want the public to be aware of. One example provided by Daniel and his group mates during the seminar presentation is the My Lai massacre by one of the greatest investigative reporters, Seymour Hersh. Below is a video on the My Lai massacre.

 

Because the truth was hidden from the community for so long until Seymour Hersh uncovered the real fact, there were a lot of commotions by the public. Instead of coming clean with the truths, the first few reports stated that they killed enemies when innocent people were in fact the ones who were killed by the army. Thus, the need for investigative journalism is significant so that these journalists can uncover such hidden truths and provide the facts for the public.

Hence, there is definitely pride in investigative journalism because being able to get hidden information for the sake of public interest is in fact hard to come by.

(451 words)

References

Burgh, H. (2000) Investigative Journalism: Context and Practice. London: Routledge.

Jones, A. S. (2009) Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

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Social media and Journalism: Strange bedfellows or made for each other?

Credits: awesocial.com

Along with the arrival of digital era and the popularization of social media, journalism has shifted its course and is experiencing a huge transformation.

But the question is: Are social media and journalism even made for each other?

Credits: davidhallsocialmedia.com

As mentioned by Joyceline and her group mates in the previous seminar presentation, social media refers to the “new media technology that enables and extends our ability to communicate… It allows users to share brief blasts of information to friends and followers from various sources” (Hermida, 2010).

The more popular examples of social media websites that are used to disseminate information are mainly through Twitter, Facebook and microblogs. Hence, through Hermida’s definition, one can see that social media is in fact able to aid journalism in terms of even faster distribution of news. For example, the London RIots:

Image

Credits: http://www.slideshare.net/UCFadvertising/social-media-and-journalism-10970001

The people made use of the social media – Twitter to disseminate the information to their followers and hence, in a short period of time, information were circulated worldwide. Twitter also has a #hashtags function to allow users to only view tweets regarding a particular tag and in that case, those who search for #londonriots would be able to view tweets and information on the particular issue.

Social media outlets thus allow users to document the news in real-time and reach a massive number of people. Furthermore, people reading the news posts of others will be able to participate in the interaction with the original poster by offering their views on the issue while at the same time, sharing it with others (DeMers, 2013).

Jess Hill, a journalist in The Walkley Magazine discussed about how her usage of social media was able to help her keep track of the happenings in the Middle East uprisings. During one of the confrontations, she actually managed to get her information from one of the activists who was at the scene taking photographs.

“Social media, used systematically, is one of the best verification tools journalists have ever had.” She said (“Go forth and verify it”, p. 13). Therefore, journalists are in fact able to double-check their information that they have gotten from the official sources with the help of thousand other users who post videos and photographs on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Last but not least, another example of how social media aided journalism was during the Iran election protests in June 2009. Mobile phones and other digital technologies were the tools used to capture the street protests against election results and dramatic footage worldwide was uploaded to social media websites as well as mainstream media organization such as CNN and BBC (Newman, 2009).

Through the activities of receiving information from those people onsite of the protest, these mainstream media organizations saw benefits of technologies during the Iran crisis:

1. Extended newsgathering possibilities mainly pictures, but also including leads on stories, usually through live blog reporters engaging directly with networks.

2. A single copy-tasting function for social web activity, saving time elsewhere in the organization and reduced scope for mistakes.

3. An accumulation of credit within communities like Twitter, including a significant number of links back to their websites or broadcasts (Newman, 2009, p.30)

That is not to say social media is perfect, mistakes are still common, especially when journalists do not verify the information or sources that they receive. However, verification is in fact the very first thing that any journalists should do, said Jess Hill (“Go forth and verify it”).

Therefore to conclude this post, it is not to say social media and journalism are made for each other; instead, social media and journalism complement one another and this is how the future of journalism will be.

Word Count: 612

References:

DeMers, J. (2013, May 8). How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism. Huffington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2013,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-social-media-is-suppo_b_3239076.html

Hermida, A. (2010). Twittering the News. Journalism Practice , 4 (3), 297-308.

Hill, J. (n.d.). Go forth and verify. The Walkley Magazine, p.13.

Newman, N. (2009) The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism: A study of how newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and US are responding to a wave of participatory social media, and a historic shift in control towards individual consumers. Reuters of Institute for the Study of Journalism, p.1-55. Retrieved May 30, 2013, from, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/Publications/The_rise_of_social_media_and_its_impact_on_mainstream_journalism.pdf

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Citizen Journalism

Credits: brianadamspr.wordpress.com

According to Carole Rich (2010), citizen journalism involves having the readers disseminate news using any online platforms such as blogs that do not belong to any of the media organizations. In the past, news organizations used to control the news and embraced the top-down model; however, in today’s society, citizens now take the media organizations’ place to report news.

Toffle (1980) stated that citizens are now seen as prosumer = product + consumer. Citizen journalism also allows people to report news on a first-person account and also permitting the readers to view the world through the reporter’s eyes. Likewise, Allan and Thorson (2009) said that citizen journalism is the acknowledgement that journalists and the citizens are one and the same person, sharing the same identity.

However, as Sterling (2009) has mentioned, citizen journalism has blurred the lines of facts and opinions and tend to move towards the presence of opinions. Another downside to citizen journalism is the credibility of the writer. Because the blog is not monitored or edited and does not have to meet the required standards of those on mainstream journalism, their credibility and reliability are often questioned (Rich, 2010).

Websites such as STOMP (The Straits Time Online Mobile Print) is one such example that encourages citizen journalism. The objective is to allow the dissemination of the news to be faster for the public. Because of the rise of technology, people are able to use their mobile phones such as the iPhone/Samsung to capture a particular scene on the spot and publish to STOMP. Similarly, any other breaking news would first be captured by citizens who happen to be at the scene itself and thus, they would be able to provide as much information as possible.

However the ironic issue is due to the easy accessibility of technology, credibility in this case is questioned – because anyone with a camera will be able to publish an article to STOMP. Even though there are the flaws, the public is still attracted to citizen journalism because of the ‘immediacy of the information delivered’ (Lagerkvist, 2010, p.118).

References

Allan, S., & Thorson, E. (2009) Citizen Journalism: global perspectives, New York: Peter Lang.

LAGERKVIST, J. (2010). After the internet, before democracy : competing norms in Chinese media and society, Bern; New York, Peter Lang.

RICH, C. (2010). Writing and reporting news : a coaching method, Boston, MA, Wadsworth.

STERLING, C. H. (2009). Encyclopedia of journalism, Thousand Oaks, Calif., SAGE Publication

Toffler, A. (1980). The Third Wave. Bantam Book