I started this semester with a growing interest in journalism due to the drama of the 2016 election. It seemed frightening to me, how little trust there was between the media and people, how fake news seemed like it would end all intelligent civil debate and how there seemed to be an obvious and disturbing propaganda war going on between the candidates that served to further divide people who, having been able to talk calmly and openly about their opinions, would have found that they had a lot of common ground between them. Journalism in the digital age is a good class to take – whether or not you’re looking towards journalism as a career – because now common citizens who have not been trained in the ethics and nuances of unbiased and clear reporting are much more in charge of information distribution than in the past. Our role as citizens seems to me to indicate that we should all feel a level of responsibility towards protecting the truth: aiming to find it, aiming to tell it, and aiming to see through sensationalist, hateful rhetoric from both sides of the political spectrum that serves to divide us.
This class was a good one for practical purposes: I enjoyed practicing reporting using only my phone, and creating a blog to see just how easy it is to start using digital media to spread information. I wish there had been a bit more discussion about the ethics and significance of living in the digital age of media: what responsibility do we and media companies have? How do we protect traditional media from being turned into clickbait by the drive for income? How do we convince consumers to support the quote-unquote real journalists who attempt, though sometimes not perfectly, to report truthfully on the events of the day and hold to account those in power. What does it mean for all of us to have such powerful information tools at our disposal? What does it mean that Facebook and Google and even our own psyche all have algorithms that allow us to readily pull up and seek out information that agrees with our everyday experiences? What is digital media doing for polarization, how is it changing the face of politics, and how can we prepare ourselves to navigate the Digital Age, where everything is at our fingertips and we have to be responsible for navigating and interpreting piles of information?
I also would have appreciated a bit more guidance on the assignments: some more background on each type of journalistic article, what they each hope to accomplish or share, the difference in style between an editorial and an article and a feature and a column. I would have liked to have had more direct feedback, perhaps actually a draft on a couple of things that would be graded so we know better what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. I think we should have had a couple of tries at each style (column, report, feature, etc.) so that we could see if we created the form successfully, and then have another try to make sure we improved upon whatever we did wrong.
I thought the start-ups were a good project because they forced us to keep up with current events and be comfortable selecting what is most important and sharing that with an audience, which is exactly what any successful journalist would do.
Overall, I enjoyed the class, and I think it is an extremely important topic today.