There are many issues that journalists have to deal with during their careers, most of which have been spoken about this semester in KJB102 Introduction to Journalism Media and Communication. Over the course of the semester discussion, research and presentation has gone into helping students understand how the world of journalism, media and communication (JMC) operates. There are now many topics that I have researched and used for previous assignments and tutorial activities that I now have a great understanding of to help me move forward in my future in JMC. During this essay I will discuss what I believe to be the three most important issues and topics that I have learnt about in Introduction to JMC. The three topics I have chosen include adapting within different media forms, ethics within the media and the ability to work within a team.
Firstly, the current state of not only the media, but all types of business is in an era of risk and instability due to such things as globalization and new technologies (Reeves, 2011). Adaptability, the first of the topics that I will be discussing, is the process where a person is able to adjust oneself to different conditions, in this specific case, being able to adapt to different positions or platforms within media (Dictionary, 2016). A key factor in the careers of many journalists has been the ability to adapt to the introduction of online and social media platforms. Social media sites such as Linked in, Facebook and Twitter allow people to self-promote themselves, build networks and post news stories they cover and report on where it can reach larger audiences (Gilpin, 2011:232). Journalists are now being pushed by newsroom management to use social media to share work they have done and connect with the public. Denise-Marie Ordway stated that journalists are encouraged to lead Twitter chats, respond to comments by the public on news articles put on Facebook and develop relationships to help drive people to view news websites. With 63% of Facebook users in the US saying they get their news from the social media giant, this is extremely important for journalists to do to help grow theirs and their company’s names in the media industry (2015, under “What audiences think of journalists’ social media use”). An example of media professionals adapting to new media can be seen in Nine Network Today show host Karl Stefanovic who has accounts on social media sites Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Stefanovic uses these sites, and in particular Twitter, to share serious and humorous news stories with his large audience of over four hundred thousand followers. Although Stefanovic learnt the ways of traditional journalism when he studied and in his early years of work, he was able to adapt to a changing market in the way he talks on television and by joining Twitter in 2011, six years after he begun working on the Today show (2016, under “Karl Stefanovic”). In an earlier assignment done this semester I focused solely on how I see Karl Stefanovic as a role model for my future in journalism, he puts himself in the public eye with the issues he shares and how he is able to speak on many different topics to many different people, and include humor at the right moments, something that clearly younger generations enjoy. Watching Stefanovic being able to do this confirmed to me that being able to adapt to new situations such as a new job or particularly the introduction of online and social media, is an essential part of what I need to do to have a successful career in JMC (Nine Entertainment Co., 2016). For myself, I believe that using my blog to write about issues I am interested in would go a long way to being able to adapt to how the media continues to change. Confidence is also something I need to work on and is a professional characteristic needed to continue to create new ways to connect with certain audiences. Media is continually changing and having the ability to adapt to new situations is essential for continued success.
The second topic that I believe is among the most important learnt this semester is media ethics. Having respect for the truth and understanding the public’s right to information is a part of the fundamental ethics principles for journalism. Ethical issues can be brought down to the question of whether revealing information about someone or something would cause them harm, what conditions would the harm be tolerated or would we deceive someone to avoid the harm? A main idea in media ethics is utilitarianism, the belief that the most morally acceptable action is the one that will help the greater number of people. This idea dominates media ethics and is a basis to help determine the correct process which should be taken (Michelle, 2013). Media companies now have guidelines that must be followed when it comes to ethical questions such as this, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), an organization set up to represent Australian JMC workers has created a Journalist Code of Ethics. The standards in this code of ethics is considered the benchmark for professional ethical behavior across the journalism industry, where members commit themselves to honesty, fairness, independence and a respect for the rights of others (2016, under “MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics”). A journalist’s aim when presenting the news is to give citizens truthful and important information that will allow them to understand social processes in the modern world. Information put out into the media will never please everyone, as long as good ethical decisions are made when showing evidence (EthicNet, n.d. under “Journalists Ethics Code”). Poor ethical decisions commonly happen in the media, and are never looked at light. Many times media professionals and news companies get themselves into trouble for stories that they post or the kind of stance that is taken in the story. For example, after reporting on NFL player Ray Rice, who was suspended from playing due to a video published by celebrity gossip website TMZ of him assaulting his then fiancé, the media ended up in a lot of trouble after it was accused of attempting to cover domestic violence. Following on from that, while discussing the tape published by TMZ, media professional, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN was suspended from working for suggesting that women provoke assault. This issue was commented on by many NFL analysts, many who later regretted what they had said (Smith, 2014, under “Top 10 Media Ethics Issues of 2014”). Although I am yet to deal with any ethical issues in my early media career it is something that I will definitely have to take into account in future endeavors. As seen in the Ray Rice case, ethical issues in the media are taken very seriously and need to be addressed before any story is published (Plaisance, 2009). Over the course of my media career, I will now be able to address ethical issues in my own work if needed due to the importance it was shown over the course of this semester.
Assessment item 2, the group report was a pivotal part of my work this semester, it provided me with a very important tool that can definitely help anyone who plans a future in JMC, teamwork. Although working in a team at university with people that you might not have never talked to before can at first be uncomfortable, it is an essential part of being a media professional. A part of the assignment that I found to help our group significantly was the discussion about what parts of the assignment each person would do. We focused on giving each person something to do that would suit their strengths. Parts such as research, writing, referencing, proofreading and making the assignment flow all came into consideration and were divided up to help better the assignment. Director of Student Media and LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication’s Steve Buttry’s web page discusses the importance of teamwork in the newsroom and how it benefits everyone. In his article he specifically states to, “Keep staff member’s strengths and weaknesses in mind” and “You might divide the labor according to their strengths (2013, para. 1 & 2).” If people are made to do work that suits their strengths it will be beneficial for the whole group and can create a more efficient group. The overall goal for our group was to work efficiently and as a team, not as individuals, something that I believe we were able to do quite well. The Australian Institute of Business’ Laura Hutton states that working in a team can help to create learning experiences, increases efficiency, more ideas, enhances communication skills, support networks and it mainly allows for the workload to be shared (2014, under “Why Teamwork is Important in the Workplace”). The efficiency of a group can also be increased with good communication skills. Over the course of our group assignment, the use of a Facebook group chat helped us to communicate effectively on certain issues we were having with the assignment. According to Demand Media’s Samantha Gluck, “Effective communication can eliminate much of the stress and negative feelings sometimes associated with working closely as a team (no date. para. 1).” Communicating effectively is something that in the past I have struggled with when it comes to working in a group, and it is because of this assignment that I believe I now have the tools to communicate effectively in future group work at university or in the workplace. Working as a team requires many skills but I believe the most valuable is cooperation and the ability to reason with other group members, skills that I now possess. Teamwork may not be the most desirable way of working for most people but it shows that by working in teams, work can be done more efficiently and helps to create skills that might not have been learnt otherwise.
Overall I definitely believe that these three topics were the most important things I learnt in Introduction to JMC and will be of considerable help to my personal and professional development. Being able to adapt to new situations or the ever changing media market is imperative in modern day journalism. Having and following a good set of ethics will allow for journalists to make good decisions when presenting stories that might be questionable when read by certain people. Lastly the importance of teamwork is key to not just journalism, but in any job, being able to work in a team will increase efficiency in any task and help to create an overall better working environment. Although I talked about how important these three topics are to a successful career in JMC, there are many other aspects that help to create success and all of which I will need to have success in the future.
Buttry, S. 2013. “Advice for editors: Foster teamwork.” Accessed 3 June, 2016. https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/advice-for-editors-foster-teamwork/
Dictionary.com. 2016. “Adaptable.” Accessed June 1, 2016. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/adaptability
EthicNet. n.d. “Journalists Ethics Code.” Accessed 3 June, 2016. http://ethicnet.uta.fi/belarus/journalists_ethics_code
Gilpin, D. R. 2011. Working the Twittersphere – Microblogging as Professional Identity Construction. In Z. Papacharissi (ed.) A Networked Self – Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. New York: Routledge, pp. 232-250.
Gluck, S. no date. “Effective Communication & Team Work.” Accessed 3 June, 2016. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-communication-team-work-3167.html
Hutton, L. 2014. “Why Teamwork is Important in the Workplace.” Accessed 3 June, 2016. http://aib.edu.au/blog/teamwork-is-important-in-the-workplace/
Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance. 2016. “MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics.” Accessed 3 June, 2016. https://www.meaa.org/meaa-media/code-of-ethics/
Michelle, A. 2013. “Utilitarianism dominates media ethics and is represented in social marketing, particularly smoking advertisements.” Accessed 4 June, 2016. http://150michelle3.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/utilitarianism-dominates-media-ethics.html
Nine Entertainment Co., 2016. “Karl Stefanovic.” Accessed 2 June, 2016. http://www.9jumpin.com.au/show/today/team/bios/karl-stefanovic/
Ordway, D.M. 2015. “What audiences think of journalists’ social media use.” Accessed June 1, 2016. http://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/news-media/audience-perception-journalists-use-social-media
Plaisance, P. L. 2009 “Ethics theory: Application to media,” Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice, Thousand Oaks, USA: Sage, pp. 21-42.
Reeves, M. 2011. “Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage.” Accessed June 1, 2016. https://hbr.org/2011/07/adaptability-the-new-competitive-advantage
Smith, S. 2014. “Top 10 Media Ethics Issues of 2014.” Accessed June 3, 2016. http://www.imediaethics.org/top-10-media-ethics-issues-of-2014/
Twitter, 2016. “Karl Stefanovic.” Accessed 2 June, 2016. https://twitter.com/karlstefanovic?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor