A note to journalists


Journalism, like most media fields, is constantly changing. Communication must adapt to how people wish to listen, especially as technologies expand to alter the mediums through which we communicate. 

Explanatory journalism is taking off more than ever, as journalists act to find the deeper story within the headline news we see everywhere we turn. Sites such as FiveThirtyEight which is owned by ESPN and Nate Silver’s work to explain sports news is a prime example of these sites. Another site of interest is Syria Deeply, which was set up to use a host of freelance writers, many of them professional journalists and Syria experts, to round out coverage of events in Syria.

So my question is, how does one become an expert journalist for a specific field? As I try to break into the field of environmental communications, it is a question I ask myself constantly. Is it really the classes you take and a cookie-cutter outline of experience, or is it simply a writing style altered specifically for what you want to communicate. Could you write for FiveThirtyEight even if you have no sports knowledge as long as you stick to a certain style of writing, use the right vocabulary and adhere to the preferences of the sports fan crowd? Or could it need to be the other way around, could you write for FiveThirtyEight with no journalism experience, just a strong knowledge and interest in sports? Part of me thinks the answer to the latter question is yes. Andy Revkin, a science reporter, made this statement regarding communicating climate science:

“Journalism is a shinking wedge of a growing pie of ways to tell stories.”

And I could not agree more. There is no right answer for how to communicate anymore. You can use video, illustration, photo, words, or audio. With a strong passion and expertise for what you’re communicating, there are enough mediums out there that in some way or another, your message will be heard. This is how journalism is developing, and in order to explain the news to the public, we need to embrace it all.


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