Thursday, April 2, 2009

Civic Journalism- MEDS 203

Civic Journalism was actually pioneered acknowledging loss of public trust in traditional journalistic values. According to professor David K. Perry of the University of Alabama, the civic journalism, also known as public journalism, is an attempt to abandon the notion that journalists and their audiences are spectators in political and social processes.

According to W. Davis Merritt Jr., one of the pioneers of civic journalism, it is "a set of values about the craft that recognizes and acts upon the interdependence between journalism and democracy. It values the concerns of citizens over the needs of the media and political actors, and conceives of citizens as stakeholders in the democratic process rather than as merely victims, spectators or inevitable adversaries. So, with a small but committed following, civic journalism has become as much of a philosophy as it is a practice.

Civic Journalism attempts to situate newspapers and journalists as active participants in community life, rather than as detached spectators. It aims at making a newspaper a forum for discussion of community issues. It favors the issues, events and problems important to ordinary people. It considers the public opinion through the process of discussion and debate among members of a community. It attempts to use journalism to enhance social capital.

Civic journalism is both a philosophy and a set of values supported by some evolving techniques to reflect both of those in journalism. At its heart is a belief that journalism has an obligation to public life - an obligation that goes beyond just telling the news or unloading lots of facts. The way we do our journalism affects the way public life goes. Journalism can help empower a community or it can help disable it.

Civic journalism aims to help return journalism to its core mission -- to give people the news and information they need to do their jobs as citizens. Civic journalism has focused not only on some problems of journalism, but also possible solutions. It has sought to:
- Restore good journalistic habits.
- Build connections with readers.
- Get better stories
- Build better citizens.

Civic journalists are motivated by deep concerns about contemporary journalism. Media surveys tell us that the public believes that the lines between reporting and commentary have become blurred; the lines between entertainment and news have become blurred. Journalists seem to be unable to "get it right." The news media are spending more time serving elites than ordinary citizens. People tell pollsters that the media is out of touch with the public. They also say that journalism is motivated by commercial interests, which are driving sensational coverage. Jim Lehrer, anchor of the respected NewsHour on U.S. public television, commented a few years ago: "Journalism, as practiced by some, has become something akin to professional wrestling -- something to watch rather than believe."

Civic journalists wanted to see if it was possible to:
- Retain the media’s watchdog role, spotlighting corruption and injustices.
- Abandon the attack dog role that seemed to be just creating a lot of noise in a very noisy media environment.
- Add the duties of a guide dog – we say “seeing-eye dog” -- helping people figure out what kind of roles they could play in a democracy beyond simply casting a ballot.

Civic journalism is now a broad label put on efforts by editors to try to do their jobs as journalists in ways that help to overcome people's sense of powerless and alienation.

The goal is to produce news that citizens need to be educated about issues and current events, to make civic decisions, to engage in civic dialogue and action -- and generally to exercise their responsibilities in a democracy.

Civic journalists believe that it is possible to create news coverage that motivates people to think, and even to act, and not simply entice them to watch, ogle or stare. And, in fact, they believe it's their responsibility to do so.

However, civic journalists don't want to tell readers and viewers WHAT to think or HOW to act. The journalists are simply creating a neutral zone of empowerment, arming citizens -- with information and sometimes methods -- to shoulder some responsibility, or offer some imagination or solutions for fixing a problem.

Civic Journalism seeks to expand these definitions of news so that they better serve citizens. Among their techniques, they seek to:
- Cover consensus as well as conflict.
- Include solutions and success stories.
- Abandon scorecard journalism. Citizens are not keeping score.
- Make sure we not only get the story right, but that we also get the right story.

Most journalists define news as conflict: Incumbent vs. challenger, winner vs. loser, pro vs. con, good vs. bad.

In the U.S., if you send a reporter out to cover a meeting in which everyone agrees on something, they are likely to come back and tell their editor, "Nothing happened." There's no story. Journalists find it difficult to cover consensus even when we’re agreeing on major changes in our communities. In fact, I would suggest to you that newspapers don’t value consensus; we value conflict. In fact, we want conflict.

Civic journalists try to probe where people agree, as well as where they disagree. They report success stories as well as failures. And they examine solutions that have worked elsewhere and may be copied in their own communities.
For detail, visit: Doing Civic Journalism
Wikipedia: Civic Journalism

Media Studies- 4th sem

No comments: