Course and Prefix Number: Public Responsibilities (Essay Sample)
For your final assignment, you will need to write an essay of at least 1250 words. Geneva Overholser, a journalist and academic, in commenting about The Elements of Journalism's Principle Seven ("Journalism Must Provide a Forum for Public Criticism and Comment") made the following argument:
At a time when voices are raised to such a high pitch in so many media, the demands on serious journalists to keep their wits about them are great. Yet we frequently feed the polarization instead. Think of coverage of gun control, crime and punishment, abortion, drug abuse, the death penalty. The thoughtful middle--the realm where most American public opinion lies--is poorly represented and often just plain ignored.
In your essay, please consider Overholser's argument about the "thoughtful middle" and explore ways that journalists can make "the public forum of the future educate rather than reinforce prejudices."
Please cover the following topics:
• What responsibilities commentators, columnists, and journalists of opinion have to the public
• The Argument Culture and its connection to the blogosphere, political websites (Huffington Post, Politico), cable television (Fox and MSNBC) and talk radio
• How the competition for audience and page-views encourages a focus on controversy and polarized viewpoints
• How the Argument Culture often drives the agenda for news coverage
• What are ways that journalism can be better connected to civic responsibility and the public interest?
Successful essays will apply concepts addressed in course readings to specific examples of media discourse. This means that you should cite specific ideas from the media and course readings (MLA or APA format preferred) and that your essay should have a works cited or references page. You may choose to draw upon additional research or personal experience, in addition to concepts from course readings.
The essay should be double-spaced and submitted as a Microsoft Word file. Please allow up to one business week for your essay to be graded.
Note that essays that do not meet the word count requirement are generally not able to respond to the question in enough specificity or detail to be effective. As a result, essays that do not meet the word count will be failed.
Course and Prefix Number
The practice of good journalism entails much more than just telling the truth. News media are popular bearers of public discussion and thus have special privileges. Journalism must always strive to equally represent different perceptions and interests in the society. This means that journalism bears the responsibility of always putting things in contexts and not just always accentuating the controversial brinks of debate. Accordingly, the paper will, in consideration of the “thoughtful middle”, evaluate ways that journalism can be used as a forum to educate the public rather than instigate prejudices. In this regard, the paper will explore the roles of journalism to the public, the Argument culture and its connections as well as the effects of viewership competition. It will also explain how the Argument culture drives news agenda and finally give ways that journalism can contribute to public interest and civic responsibility.
What Responsibilities Do Commentators, Columnists, And Journalists Of Opinion Have To The Public?
Journalists have impeccable writing skills, an insightful mind and the rare ability to interest and capture the attention of readers/ viewers (Nah et al., 2015). The personality of the columnists, commentators, and journalists is what makes them thrive in their roles and responsibilities. Basically, their responsibility is to facilitate the readers/viewers with a comprehensive, objective and concise explanation of news events (Ananny, 2014). Columnists have the power of their words to not only interest but also influence the public. Good columnists must have these wording abilities such that their words must always have resonance. A true journalist's main responsibility is to bear witness to the public. This means they must be there to report to the public the truth.
Yusuf (2016) explains that journalists, commentators, and columnists are charged with the duty of facilitating the public/society with the current knowledge that it needs. The social responsibility theory of journalism makes the press answerable to the community which it serves. With the advancing technology today, press coverage is national and even global. This means that journalists, columnists, and commentators are accountable to very many people across the globe. Even with the important independence and freedom of the press, the mass communication functionality underscores the major role that the press place in informing the public often at a global level.
Journalists must be the public's watchdogs and accurately inform the public. A journalist must be competent and always effectively choose their sources so as to always report accurate news to the world (Yusuf, 2016). Commentators, columnists, and journalists of opinion must be guided by the journalism code of ethics and have high professional standards and integrity. This will differentiate them from the fake news sources available today. In addition, these professionals must articulate and remind the society of its common, shared values and goals of the society (Yusuf, 2016). Also, they have a duty to clearly project the representative portrayal of the constituent groups of the society. These professionals share their viewpoints with the public and thus must have the facts with them. Their duties emerge from the public's right to access fact and opinions.
The Argument Culture and its Connections
Tannen (2013) argues that there is an argument culture in the society whereby people tend to argue too much in the society. This agonism strongly affects the private and public discourse making individuals and even journalists to look at things and each other in an antagonistic spirit. This corrodes th...
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