October 12, 2011

Sex, Lies and…Journalism. ~ Anna Baldwin

Journalism is simply about truth and informing the citizens of the country. But is truth still an important value of modern journalism?

I originally wanted to be a journalist after watching the movie, Almost Famous. I was fascinated with digging deeper into an issue, exposing truths and telling the citizens of the world what it needed to know to live as a productive citizen. I truly believed that it was a journalist’s duty to inform the world, even when not everyone wanted something to be exposed for the entire world to see.

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” ~ George Orwell

By the time I had graduated high school, Facebook was running rampant and Twitter was just emerging. I entered college as a journalism and technical communication major and sought out internships and a school newspaper job in order to hone my writing skills.

At the start of my college career, I still idolized the writer from Almost Famous, but I had also been exposed to other great journalism flicks. These included Shattered Glass and All the President’s Men, a movie about the infamous journalists who broke the Watergate Scandal. I admired the persistence that these writers had in order to get a whole story and uphold their ethical journalistic standards.

“My advice to you. I know you think those guys are your friends. You wanna be a true friend to them? Be honest, and unmerciful.” ~ Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

These standards were, as I was taught in school, was to be objective, transparent and above all else, truthful. It was truth that was needed to help the country move forward, whether it be positive or critical.

Modern journalism, as a rule, should be just the same as it was during the time of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – not influenced by any outside issues or people, as well as truthful and deeply needed just as it always had been.

Of course, news writing is absolutely just as needed to keep citizens informed in order for them to make educated decisions and to help advance democracy. Journalism is also still important to be watchdogs of the government and corporations.

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” ~Walter Cronkite

The delivery of news is definitely different – I discover breaking news on Twitter faster than I do from an online article and especially before I see it in print.

I also report differently than how journalists did 30 or even 10 years ago. I primarily use email, Twitter and other social media entities to get story ideas, gather information and obtain sources. I haven’t touched a landline in years.

What’s also different is that the truth is unfortunately not still there as it once was in this honored profession. I seemed to have missed the prime era of journalism due to my young age.

Currently, advertising or corporations influence articles so that the images or words that these entities want shown to the public are the dominant messages. The goal for advertisers and corporations is to rise in fame and fortune, but they can only do that if all opposing views are downplayed.

Yellow journalism is more prominent now than ever. It’s the headlines with the word ‘sex’  in the title that is purposely put there to attract more readers, no matter that it’s poorly-researched, biased or even an exaggeration of the news.

“The public has an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.” ~Oscar Wilde

I may have missed the prime era of real journalism, but that won’t stop me from still reporting the truth without any outside influence, though I may do this with the help of my Twitter feed and cell phone.


Anna Baldwin graduated from Colorado State University with a Journalism and Technical Communication degree, although she spent more time skiing than she did in class. She has written for more than five publications and the online entities on a variety of subjects, and some of her work has appeared on MSNBC.com and in Skiing Magazine. Some of her interests include biking, skiing, reading, cooking, slacklining, skiing, hiking and skiing. Anna lives in Boulder.


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