Letters from the Editor: Precision affects perception of journalism

Danny Fisher / Editor-in-Chief

Just one day in a non-journalism class discussing journalism was enough to break my heart. In this five-hour WINTERmester session, we discussed news, journalism, news outlets and media… and we used the four terms interchangeably the entire time.

This is representative of a rather unfortunate trend concerning news consumption, where people neglect to consider aspects of news critically. It’s the lack of ability to distinguish between news and other forms of media that causes individuals to claim that entire news organizations are “crap,” because they dislike the commentary hosted there.

It’s an easy trap to fall prey to. I cringe every time I accidentally tell my mother “I was reading this article the other day…” when I was actually referring to a listicle or pop piece. When there’s SO MUCH information bouncing off you at all times, and so little of it is important, it does become difficult to make the distinction between pieces of media.

But we must make an effort to do so.

In the class I found so frustrating, we should have distinguished between media, which is a huge category of information including fact and fiction and opinion, and news, which is only fact. A line should have been drawn between news outlets, which are responsible for disseminating news, entertaining and providing a forum for expression, and journalism, which is a field dedicated to reporting news without bias.

These are distinctions we have to make on a daily basis. When we read opinion pieces, we can acknowledge that there are elements of news writing involved, but we should still distinguish them from “news.” We can’t allow journalists to pass off editorial comments and opinion as news.

Many believe that the journalism industry is tainted by those who forgo the ethics of the field in favor of promoting personal agendas. If that is true, it is at least in part because we allow it to be true through our lack of critical evaluation of the medium.

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