In 2003, one of America’s favorite catchphrases was George W. Bush’s favorite sayings: weapons of mass destructions.
The speculation was, of course, that Saddam Hussein’s supposed connections with Al Qaeda had these weapons of mass destruction ready to strike at any minute. However, as America made its way into the Iraq war, a more concerning idea would be that mainstream American media went along with everything the government put out without the least bit of scrutiny.
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In 1929, American journalist George Seldes published “You Can’t Print That,” an exposé of media censorship and government control over the press. In it, Seldes published a 1918 interview with Paul von Hindenburg, the German field marshal during World War I.
The information Hindenburg revealed during the interview could have seriously changed the course of history: Seldes claimed that Hindenburg’s information ”would have destroyed the main planks of the platform on which Hitler rose to power.”
However, military censors stopped Hindenburg’s information from ever being published, which is something that Seldes fought strongly against during his career as a journalist.
The good ol’ days of traditional journalism seems a prehistoric practice for those who are in the business today. Social media has drastically changed the way we consume and provide news, blowing print journalism away with the dust. With the emergence of iPhones, iPads and wearable technology, the way journalists go about finding and reporting news has drastically changed since the days when the Sunday paper was the only way to get your weekly fix of information.
Nowadays information travels at lightning speed, reaching billions of viewers worldwide in a matter of seconds. Journalists can live tweet events, allowing their audiences to literally follow the news along with them. New technology, such as Google glass, provides a personal point-of-view perspective for video packages. Covering news has become personal, bridging the gap between the audience and the reporter.
Audiences are contributing more and more to the conversation, providing their own feedback and even reporting news on their own using blogs and other social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. As writer and columnist Dan Gillmor says within his book, We the Media, “We’re seeing the rise of the heavy-duty blogger, web site creator, mailing list owner, or SMS gadfly—the medium is less important than the intent and talent—who is becoming a key source of news for others, including professional journalists. In some cases, these people are becoming professional journalists themselves and are finding ways to make a business of their avocation”.
The line between media corporation and average citizen has blurred, creating new sources of information for journalists worldwide. No longer will journalists have to struggle to find resources; information is just around the corner!
For young aspiring journalists, taking the first steps into the fast-paced world of news reporting can be somewhat of a challenge. You’re young, fresh out of college, not very experienced but very eager to make a name for yourself within the industry…so how do you do it?
For Ithaca College alum and Buzzfeed‘s News app editor Aaron Edwards, it was all about keeping an open mind. Students in the Mobile and Media Journalism class at the college got a chance to chat with him via Skype to find out what it really takes to be successful in this business.
“Be more open to what your fist job might look like than what you anticipated it to be,” Edwards says. “Being open to things is better than being closed off by them.”
Sure, the first jobs a budding news reporter might apply for would be for newspapers and broadcasting channels. However, the way we consume and report media is constantly changing, which means that those just starting out in the business must be willing to adapt to the latest methods of news reporting. That may mean starting off with a job in a field that may not be ideal. There’s often a preconceived notion that to be a reporter you have to start off, well, as a reporter. Nowadays, the need for reporters isn’t as high as the demand for social media experts–but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forever stuck within a branch you didn’t want to be in.
“The technology industry keeps beating journalism, so people become really valuable when they know how to use all social media,” he says.
That isn’t to say that all the traditional techniques of old-school reporting should be tossed out the window. According to Edwards, it’s still very important to maintain a strong reporting and writing background. Although it might seem as if news reports may be getting shorter and more to the point, journalists should still have a grasp for traditional news formats. I mean, you wouldn’t stop teaching kids how to read just because there’s a text-to-speech app on almost every technological apparatus…at least, I’d hope you wouldn’t…
But the most important piece of advice Edwards gives is probably one that most of us overlook.
“When you start off, dedicate yourself to the work you’re doing,” he says. “Own the fact that you’re there. Throw yourself into your job; don’t start off by trying to impress other people.”
During his days as a young intern for The Associated Press, the best work Edwards did was a result of him sitting head-down at his desk, for hours on end, and focusing solely on his tasks at hand.
“Give people a reason to come to you. Don’t give them a reason to ignore you.”