Who Needs Journalists, Anyway?

| September 11, 2013

newsDisclaimer: This is me getting on my journalism soapbox. It has nothing to do with roads—at least directly—unless you consider that anyone could just “report” on highway and transportation construction industry without credibility mattering.

With Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, FourSquare and a bevy of other social mediums and the web, where bloggers and other can easily self-publish, it seems like anyone can be a journalist these days. But does that mean that person understands the importance and process of fact-checking, accuracy and most of all, ethics? Not so much.

I suppose anyone could purport to be a road writer. But does that mean he or she understands the industry or what goes into journalistically reporting an article? No.

I’ll admit media outlets all want to be the first to report a story. We all want to break it. During times of crises, stories do often change as reports from officials come in. But it’s important to consider the source and who is providing the analysis. Isn’t it better to be right than be first? This is why professionals in the journalism industry are so important. It’s why trained professionals in the highway transportation and road construction industry are so important.

David Cuillier (Photo: via The Art of Access Blog)

David Cuillier (Photo: via The Art of Access Blog)

David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism was installed last month as president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

According to a report from the school:

“Today, professional journalists are needed more than ever – given all the misinformation and bunk out there,” Cuillier said during his August 26 acceptance speech. “A democratic society requires professionals skilled at collecting information, analyzing it, vetting it, and disseminating it clearly, quickly, accurately, and ethically. This is a calling, my friends.”

I couldn’t agree more. There is certainly a time and place for amateurs to report. In fact, getting photos and videos from non-journalists can provide good content. However, journalism is not just throwing up any ol’ information to Facebook and Twitter. Yes, these are bona fide news sources as information can be disseminated quickly and publicly. But, as Cullier says, it requires skill. It requires good judgment. It requires accuracy and ethics.

I was quite reassured when I read this article this past week. The need for journalists has not gone away.

I hope you feel there is a need for well-trained professionals in the journalism/editorial industry.

I know I sure don’t want just any ol’ person repairing our nation’s infrastructure (although, I wouldn’t argue if any ol’ person wants to provide the funding for it).

What do you think? Do you think I’m full of malarkey or misguided? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at tinabarbaccia@gmail.com.

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