Communications professionals and news reporters alike are held to high standards when it comes to making and shaping news. The role of the former is to facilitate or help the process of channeling the news from the source to the news reporter, the latter to ensure timely and accurate publication of the news. Transparency along the process is required with respect to sources and materials being shared, although at times sources need to remain confidential.
However, a changing media landscape is adding pressure on broadcast and print channels not only to be the first to “break the news”, but also to play a lead role in shaping the public opinion. As a result, lines between newsmakers and opinion shapers have begun to blur. Furthering this process is a proliferation of social media outlets, providing a voice to everyone in this democratic media universe to influence and drive news.
We probably all agree that it has become harder and harder for viewers and “readers” – i.e. those who still read full-length articles – to distinguish between hard news, recycled news bites, or news that’s primarily someone’s opinion being pushed out to the public. Some of the behavior patterns have unfortunately made its way into newsrooms. While news reporting should be pretty straight forward, it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape the many (personal) views that make their way into news reporting.
While it is unclear who appreciates the unsolicited views when merely looking to catch up on news from around the world, or how this serves to inform the public, it is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves of the roles we play both as communications professionals and news reporters, and the responsibilities that come with them.
– Katrin C. Lieberwirth
Photo via Flickr account Jim Pennucci