As a young kid growing up in San Bernardino, it never occurred to me to pursue a career in journalism. And it makes sense as to why. Being a journalist is no easy job. You’re always held to a higher standard, and criticized when one doesn’t agree with what you write.
What 13-year-old would dream of a job like that?
However, after spending the last two months reporting on the issues of my community, I have a newfound appreciation of those who seek truth, accuracy, and fairness. Some people don’t take into consideration the responsibility a journalist has to inform others.
Journalism is at a pivotal point in time. Traditional journalism is being eclipsed by citizen journalism–the act of ordinary residents engaging followers with news content through social media. Whereas citizen journalism has been beneficial to some degree, it has its flaws. Sometimes it is inaccurate, biased, or simply a lie. That is why it’s important to realize the essential need for professional journalism to continue to take the forefront in mass communication.
The Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics, which explains how a journalist is supposed to report the news. We are supposed to minimize harm, meaning we treat everybody as a human being deserving of respect. We are supposed to act independently. Lastly, we are supposed to be accountable and transparent with our work. We must take responsibility for what we write.
Whether it is community news or world news, journalists take the responsibility of accurately reporting and producing information for the rest of the people. Interning with IECN gave me the opportunity to do just that. I reported on numerous matters in the city that dealt with social welfare and community service and I featured residents who have made an impact on the city.
It’s important to be aware of these journalistic principles when it comes to reporting on community news because it is possible for information to be misconstrued by the audience. If the story isn’t reported based on journalistic ethics, then citizens aren’t getting the accurate information they need. For example, with millions of users on Twitter, it’s easy for news to spread like wildfire. During the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, there was information being tweeted about the shooter and his background which ignited many conspiracy theories. Users were tweeting their two-cents on the event and why it transpired. As reports began to come out about the incident, many of the conspiracy theories were proven wrong.
This experience gave me a taste of what the real world of journalism is like. Time management and deadlines are crucial. The process of writing and reporting for IECN has opened my eyes to the dire need of community news. Although I know we get caught up on world news, especially with things like the current government turmoil happening, it’s important to know what’s happening close to home.
Through this internship, I got the extra push I needed to really decide whether or not I was going into this profession. With the world of journalism constantly evolving and many publications like TIME and L.A. Weekly being bought out, it’s important for me to find my niche and what I enjoy reporting about.
Many of the people I have met through this internship have also provided me with advice to become successful. I know my future in journalism is still unclear and can be troublesome, but I am hoping I can contribute to this world one way or another.