Rights of Journalists, media, press
March 6, 2019
Role of Press
The role of the press is to give the people information that is truthful so they are able to make decisions and choices to better their lives.
“To me, the role of the press is to be objective on issues that the people in this country care about and provide multiple perspectives from qualified sources on those issues,” sports reporter at Daily Nebraskan Elic Chisam said. “There are at least two sides to every issue and its important that we in the press allow all sides provide their perspective.”
The role of the press is to take action and provide facts to people all around the world. From politics to daily local news, there is always journalists finding new stories and making sure people know those stories. When making these stories public, there are certain notes to take before heading face to face with the facts.
“I think it’s important to note that my job isn’t to make people feel good. My job isn’t to do public relations for a group that has a public relations committee,” Northwestern Missourian chief reporter Samantha Collison. “In my work, writing about the LGBTQ community, I tread very carefully because the last thing I would want is to out someone, violate their privacy or misrepresent someone. I remind people multiple times that they don’t have to answer every question if they’re comfortable and I do my research. Getting the facts straight is super important to me, especially when sources are normal humans who would be seriously hurt by undue public ridicule.”
As a journalist, there are precautions to be taken into consideration when reporting on a specific topic before they make the story accessible to the public. For broadcasting journalism, there are extra precautions for publishing a story. These precautions include the topic, the amount of information, and how the people would react to the information.
“I think that all journalists should be cautious, but in some respects, broadcasters need to exercise more caution than print journalists and in broadcasting you get one shot to communicate the facts,” Chisam said. “You have to write your script and deliver it in a way that is clear and easy for the audience to understand and in print, people can go back and reread something if they don’t understand it at first. Broadcast journalists do not have that luxury.”
How journalism impacts people can be hurtful or uplifting, depending on the topic being talked about. The people then take charge and create marches, stand ups, and other community marks which can depend on the topic being fought for. That gives journalists to provide facts instead of opinions.
“I’ll say with the recent “climate” around the press, people are very hesitant and resistant to believing what they read and watch,” Souchek said. “That’s why it’s much more important to always be fair and accurate. There has never been more pressure to do so.”
Criticism is something that everyone goes through, especially when it is being published out into the public for a lot of eyes to see and connect to it. Journalists goes through a lot of criticism for telling the truth.
“ It just comes with a larger audience,” Chisam said. “One of the harsh realities of this job that I learned during my internship at KETV in Omaha last summer is that people in the audience almost never reach out to tell you, you did a good job and 99% of the time its to yell at you about something, and their criticism can range from taking offense to something you said to something that you’re wearing.”
Journalists revolutionize way current population gets news over time
Journalism has been around for centuries informing, developing and impacting humanity as the times have changed.
“Journalism as we presently understand it appeared shortly after the development of moveable type in the 15th century. News books and pamphlets with accounts of news events were published throughout the 16th century, and by the 17th century newspapers were being published throughout Europe” John Bender Professor of Journalism and Mass communications said.
Today Journalism is the primary source of information for those who access media outlets on a regular basis. Throughout wars, Supreme Court cases and moments of weakness in our country, Journalist have been there working to educate the masses.
“I think the main importance of journalism is helping people know about what is happening their world and what can be done about it” Bender said, Including a quote from one of the most prominent men in history, “They can’t do that if they are uninformed or misinformed. James Madison, the 4th president of the United States, said, ‘Popular government without popular information is but a prologue to farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.’ I can’t think of a better way of expressing the importance of journalism.”
Journalism has progressed throughout the years taking different forms of adding efficiency to the way we receive our information including the integration of the radio and broadcast journalism.
Wm. David Sloan, in The Media in America, said “Teletype Setting equipment, photo transmission devices as well as national radio networks that were set up by 1926 sent news across the country with breathtaking speed”
Broadcast journalism was the new and improved method of getting information out to the public.
“Industry professionals and historians generally credit Edward R. Murrow with being the originator of Broadcast Journalism. In 1937, CBS sent Murrow to London to report on the news from Europe. Murrow, along with other reporters, reported on the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II.” Jim Timm President and Executive Producer of the Nebraska Broadcast Association said.
Then came television, according to Sloan’s The Media In America, the first public demonstration of television took place in september of 1927, and by 1950 news anchors began taking on television setting paving the way for networks we see today.
“While newspapers had the news business to themselves for decade after decade, the advent of “instant” news via radio and TV drove people to tune in throughout each day and night for bulletins and updates on news from across the world, nation, state and local areas” Tim said. “Broadcast Journalists like Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw…and so many more, became trusted faces and voices.”
Currently, many print publications are being moved online. With the reachability of the internet most people can google what news updates they’re looking for.
“The internet has completely revolutionized our industry not only with evolving, faster technology but also with the speed in which broadcast journalism can be delivered, and the speed at which consumers expect “instant” news.” Timm said.
Locally, the cities of Omaha and Bellevue have their own media outlets, taking the forms of radio, television, online and print, the Omaha World Herald being one of the most prominent media outlets in the area.
“The World-Herald has a long history dating back more than 150 years. And we have evolved with the times. About 20 years ago we added the Omaha.com website for the growing number of people who prefer to get their news online.” Henry Cordes Metro News Reporter for the Omaha World Herald said.
Small scale, or local journalism has become increasingly valued with the amount of information local networks and publications provide on things that are happening in our cities.
“Our impact on the community is almost immeasurable. People count on us for all kinds of information, breaking news and what’s happening in local entertainment to death notices when someone they know has had a death in the family,” Cordes said. “We are the source of most of the local news that is produced in this community. Even much of the news that appears on TV originated with reporting that we did.”
Nebraska state Legislative Bill 206 protects student journalists, advisers
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Co-Editor in Chief
The New Voices Bill (LB 206) was presented in front of the Nebraska state judiciary committee on Feb. 1, 2019, which would protect the rights of student journalists and their advisers.
“In 1988, the principal of Hazelwood East High School outside St. Louis, Missouri, censored from the student newspaper a special teen issue section that included articles on teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on students. Members of the student staff sued,” according to Student Press Law Center (SPLC).
In 2016, the first New Voices Bill was introduced in Nebraska; however, it was not the first in the nation. It’s purpose is to grant First Amendment rights to student publications at both the high school and college level. Former high school journalist, Madi Pohlman, went to testify at the hearing on Feb. 1.
According to SPLC, “If you want a populus of educated people, you need to allow journalists to educate people,” Pohlman said. “And this journalism starts in high school.”
Many students and advisers from across the state came to testify for LB 206 while others just came to watch the testimonies. State senator Adam Morfeld has been the one to sponsor this bill each year since 2016.
“If we’re truly preparing our young people for being good citizens, we need to give them the skills, responsibility and sometimes consequences of exercising their First Amendment rights,” Morfeld said.
The reason is students and advisers alike are getting punished and reprimanded for writing over important, yet controversial topics and stories to be published. At Millard West, adviser Lisa Lukecart was punished for standing up for a student’s First Amendment rights.
“I am ashamed I am a graduate of a high school that allowed that,” 2017 graduate of Millard West, Emily Seaton said.
There are roughly twenty-five reported incidents that happened in Nebraska between 1988 and 2009 where censorship occurred and punishments were distributed to advisers and student journalists. According to SPLC, the latest occurrence happened in Oct. 2009. This report is in a list of incidents suppressing student expression in Nebraska, from Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska.
“A district superintendent changed not only his answers to student newspaper staff questions, but also changed their questions to him, before allowing publication of an article on teacher pay in the student newspaper,” according to Academic Freedom Nebraska.
Not only censorship and reprimand has happened. Teachers have been fired, removed from their adviser position while students have been suspended, given detention and told they could not publish the newspaper or article that was produced.
“Each student journalist is solely responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, sports and advertising content for any school-sponsored media,” according to The Wayne Stater journalism staff at Wayne State College.
On Feb. 22 the judiciary committe voted unanimously to advance the bill to the full legislature for a vote. With this vote came the institution of certain amendments.
“In brief we, 1) Removed the immunity to the schools … 2) Included commonly accepted ethical journalistic standards as one of the several reasons administrators can intervene, and 3) took out private schools because of religious freedom concerns,” Morfeld said.
Current mass media affects political views
Journalism has been around for centuries to inform the public. Over the years, the public has lost their trust in the because of the fictitious stories and photos spread through media platforms by unreliable sources. What would be considered a biased political outlet and news feed would make no exception to fueling the distrust in the people.
“Although most news organizations are economically independent of political parties and political leaders, coverage of government and politics remain the core of the news business,” University of Lincoln Nebraska Journalism Professor John Bender said.
Politics and journalism have always played a role with one another, as according to Bender, journalism was around to report about political ideas. Any other type of news story was for human interest.
“The primary role of early journalism was the dissemination of news and ideas about politics. In the 19th century, as newspapers developed as a true mass medium, they started carrying more news about business and economics and news of a nonpolitical nature,” Bender said.
Politics will always be a key component in journalism as long as there is democracy, Bender expressed. The public’s views about journalism will stay consistent.
“Some journalism does reflect the biases of writers or editors, but I believe this is less frequent than many think. For the vast majority of news coverage, journalists strive to be neutral and fair. The perception of bias emerges, I believe, largely from the fact that the news and reality do not always conform to the ideological expectations of the readers and viewers. Their response is to brand the news as biased,” Bender said.