One more week of being a reporter! Time really flies.
In our lecture, we were talking about how journalists are being confronted by people asking us if we're "fake news." Although they might be joking, there is always a hint of seriousness in their question because why would they ask in the first place? We started off the class talking about my peers' experiences with being asked that, and it was interesting to hear how they were able to respond to that. All of them kind of just shrugged it off and tried to laugh about it to break the awkwardness. I just can't imagine being asked something that I feel is someone disrespectful to my trade. I don't really think any journalist tries to disseminate fake news unless they have a hidden agenda. I think fake news started because there has been so much news coming out lately that just insults people's views, and therefore don't find any ounce of it possibly true.
I asked myself what I would tell someone if they came up to me and asked if I were "fake news." I would probably do what my peers did in the situation, but I would be a different journalist after that. Even not being asked that I feel like what I'm doing as a journalist will always be mocked and not taken seriously because people are skeptical of what is true and what is fake. It's hard to believe what I want to do for a living could be not taken seriously or true, and in some ways, I take it personally. I know that I shouldn't be taking any of this personally, but I have devoted myself to raising awareness of controversies by telling it how it is, and when people say that what I'm doing is a lie or a hoax, it's upsetting. It's upsetting not because they attacked my work, it's upsetting because they can't believe that our world is really how it is. When they don't believe, nothing will change. That's what's upsetting.
Okay, my rant is over. But really. All this criticism and idea that journalists produce fake news makes me even more proud to be studying journalism at the best School of Journalism in the country. I'm proud to be doing what I'm doing and showing people that they're wrong about us. Yes, there may be some bad apples out there, but there are bad apples in every industry, and it's just inevitable that they ruin the reputations of all. But I'm not gonna let that bring me down. I know that I'm doing this to tell it how it is, and that's what I'm gonna do.
In this illustration by The Oatmeal, the concept of letting all information in regardless of our beliefs was a truly believable idea that makes sense. I just don't know if it can actually make people start listening to things that clash their views they have had for, like, ever. It was easy for me to let go of what I originally believed because the comic shared with me new information with evidence of that information, and it was easy for me to change my perspective on things, but I don't know if that would really affect other people as much.
For our final blog post, we are being asked to answer one question:
What can journalism do to help people set aside pre-conceived notions and consider the facts?
Although I will fully answer that question in my final blog, I have thought about how I can answer this question. What I have concluded about this question is that I have to ask another question:
Is there something we can do to help people just consider the facts?
I'm aware that as a journalist, I have to look at the facts first. But I still have my own views and my own perspective on things, and I try to not let that affect the way I report on touchy issues. It's hard to let go of my views. But if the facts are on my side, so I have to look at other perspectives and try to take them into consideration? I don't know. That's what I sort of struggle with at the moment.
Even talking to my own father about issues is hard. He has pretty opposing views from me, and it's difficult to have a constructive conversation with him because he basically won't believe what I am saying, and calls criticism of Trump "fake." There is that word again, "fake." No matter the facts I may spew to him or try to show him that the real facts about certain issues, it doesn't really hinder his support for the current administration. I'm not saying that he shouldn't have his own views, but it's just an example of how people really stick their own views no matter what evidence or facts you present them.
Facts should be the basis of all journalism, but can even facts make you close-minded sometimes? Something to think about when I fully answer that question.
How I can improve my writing
In our lecture, we talked about eight different factors we should take into consideration to better our writing. I think that my previous article on the African congregation is a good example of what my weaknesses are. I can't really tell what my strengths are, per se, but I know what I need to work on. Even the very first one we talked about, using force, is one that I struggle with because I think that I have a very limited vocabulary. That could be easily fixed from just reading more and honestly using thesaurus.com to inspire me. A lot of the times I just can't think of the word that I want to use, which gets frustrating sometimes.
The structural content of the writing can easily be fixed too. I just have to remember to NEVER use words that are redundant, irrelevant, and overused. I try not to use "different" EVER. But it is hard because different is such a big part of my vocabulary — only because I'm pretty simple-minded.
I want to find my voice. I don't think that my writing is reflective of my voice, and it's difficult to show who I am as a journalist through writing. I think it's because I've guarded myself against it and have been so opposed to writing that I haven't allowed myself to grow all these years. Being a visual journalist can sometimes have its setbacks if you're trying to be a more well-rounded journalist.
Overall, I know that my writing has to improve in every aspect. Even though there is only one week left, I'm ready to tackle on more and continue to be a better writer even after this reporting class. Ultimately, I want to be able to be confident in the writing I am doing and know that I can do it on my own. It's nice being able to talk to editors and go over my work together, but I want to be able to just show them my work without having as many changes.