In December 2008, the United States’ second-largest newspaper publisher, TribuneCo, filed for bankruptcy. This bankruptcy was the largest ever in the history of American media. With the advent of new technologies, the media landscape and journalism industry are changing rapidly. News organizations are having trouble adapting and finding the right business models to sustain their activities, a pattern that has caused multiple publications to fold. In March 2010, upon its publication of an investigative report, the Business Insider stated that there was no way for investigative journalism to ever be sustainable online.
The market environment is currently shaping the perfect recipe that fundamentally threatens the existence of investigative journalism. If print publications are becoming a thing of the past and online sources cannot sustainably engage in this kind of journalism, society will see less of it. Online news sources are constantly and strongly incentivized to produce a greater number of articles, even if it means not taking the time to uphold high journalistic standards. It has been the work of Paper to find ways to align business interest with high quality journalism.
In addition to investigative journalism, Paper offers other journalism genres which can have as important an impact on society. Among them, the concept of impartiality in reporting has been lauded by news organizations for a little more than a century. Impartiality came to life partly because it was aligned with the business interests of news organizations, but now that the market environment is changing, will it still be the case? Another concept, cultural journalism, is an innovation from Paper. This kind of journalism not only aims to report on different cultures, but also to address cultural misconceptions directly. Preventive journalism, a term most famously coined by Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, aims to report on the events that precede the development of major issues. Finally, entrepreneurial journalism, another innovation from Paper, aims to counter-balance the predominance of negative reporting in the mainstream media.
This paper explores the various definitions of different journalism genres, analyzes the different aspects and impacts of each, discusses the innovations from Paper, and explains the definitions chosen by Paper. Furthermore, it seeks to bridge the gaps between the various aspects of each genre that are at odds with each other, evaluate the potential impacts of Paper’s reporting choices on American society, and assess the required company policies and procedures to comply with these decisions.
Section One: Definitions and aspects of various journalism genres
Investigative journalism is often thought of as the cornerstone of high quality journalism. It is praised by most if not all news organizations, but it does not always result in a positive impact nor is there one uniformly agreed upon definition. Mr. Alan Rusbridger, former Deputy Editor of the Guardian, stated that “All journalism is investigative to a greater or lesser extent, but investigative journalism – though it is a bit of a tautology – is that because it requires more, it’s where the investigative element is more pronounced.” (1999) Mr. Rusbridger’s thoughts illustrate that it might not be possible to strictly define investigative journalism and that it could simply be a more in-depth version of the traditional journalistic process. While journalists always have to research the subjects that they cover, in the case of investigations, journalists must dig much deeper and uncover the truths that would otherwise not be known by the public.
Mr. Hugo de Burgh believes that investigative journalism is the act of “[discovering] the truth and [identifying] lapses from it in whatever media may be available,” distinct from the work of law enforcement officials in that it is not legally founded. (9) The author goes on to explain that the most famous journalists are the ones who are perceived as idealistic, principled, and who frequently engage in a form of journalism that is inherently investigative. This assertion indicates that a loss of impartiality could result if the idealism and principles on the journalist’s part are not properly directed, an issue that must be addressed by Paper. The greatest distinction in the author’s definition of investigative journalism lies in the identification of lapses from the truth. While journalistic standards generally compel the discovery of the truth, investigative journalism goes further in identifying the areas where there are discrepancies between what is actually happening and what the population believes is happening. This is more than a simple truthful report about the occurrence of an event as it actively seeks these discrepancies and brings them to light.
Mr. Theodore Glasser and Mr. James Ettema point to investigative journalists’ inclination to “pit the press against power, particularly but not exclusively the power of the state” (3), which they argue points to a populist mandate of the press. The authors further explain that in investigative journalism’s attack, harassment, and intimidation of power, journalists aim to police those who cannot police themselves and bring moral indignation within the population. This definition of investigative journalism, of course, denotes a strong bias against the persons or organizations in positions of power. It does not only aim to identify a lapse from the truth and bring it to light, but it also aims to do so specifically for entities in power, denoting a certain form of accountability. This inherently places the press on the side of populism and against any form of power.
Impartiality is one of the fundamental values advanced in journalism ethics. It is important to note, however, that this concept came to life not from the desire to uphold strong journalistic standards, but mostly because it was aligned with the business interests of the time. Newspapers began to break away from political affiliations towards the end of the 19th century. In the words of Richard L. Kaplan, “Parties no longer possessed the capacity to define the political identities and loyalties of the populace” and “ritual affirmations of party fealty would only hinder, not help, [a] journal expand its market share” (Tritter 2). Publishers also did not want to offend potential advertisers.
Coming into the 21st century, the market is heavily changing, and many experts are calling for journalism organizations to engage in hyperlocal journalism or tailor their reporting to more specific niche markets, which can very often include niche political affiliations. Paper is taking the opposite approach and remains committed to the principles of broad coverage and impartiality for ethical reasons, aiming to find the business model that can support it into the new market environment.
Mr. Stephen Ward argues that “impartiality is better conceived of as the fallible attempt to recognize one’s biases and improve one’s viewpoint.” (159) This definition calls for the acknowledgement of preconceived ideas, but not necessarily for their adjustment or temperance. Concretely, it is hard to assess whether or not a journalist is being impartial or not using this definition as a guideline, as it is hardly verifiable. In fact, this also goes outside of the journalistic profession – most people recognize their biases as they speak, and while they may improve their viewpoint, this does not mean that they adjust for their biases.
Mr. Michael Ryan defines objectivity in a similar way as scientific objectivity: “The overarching value for the objective journalist (or scientist) is the collection and dissemination of information that describes reality as accurately as possible.” (3) The author goes on to explain that this depends greatly on the integrity of the journalist and that reporting decisions should not be made using personal preferences but professional norms, further defined by:
(a) accuracy, completeness, precision, and clarity in information collection and dissemination; (b) receptivity to new evidence and alternative explanations; (c) skepticism, typically toward authority figures, the powerful, and the self-righteous; (d) initiative in finding ways, for example, to research difficult topics; (e) fairness, impartiality, and disinterestedness, in that no social–political agenda is served and the tenets of objectivity are observed; (f) imagination, creativity, and logical consistency in making strategic decisions (e.g., in selecting stories) and in presenting narratives in interesting and compelling ways; (g) honesty about personal idiosyncrasies and preferences; (h) communality and verification, in that results are freely shared; and (i) universalism, in that outcomes are not evaluated on the basis of the practitioner’s personal characteristics (Koertge, 1996; Merton, 1973; Nanda, 1998; Parsons, 1951).
The author further addresses multiple criticisms of objectivity and argues, among other things, that a journalist who tries to be objective and attempts to transcend his own biases will describe reality with more accuracy than a journalist who allows his or her agenda to fully display in the reporting. I would further comment that objectivity may or may not be possible depending on the way that it is defined and that there can be varying degrees of objectivity. If 100% objectivity is not achieved, this does not imply that it is nonexistent. For example, if one receives a grade of 95% on an exam, this does not mean that he/she has no proficiency in the subject whatsoever. This will be further discussed later on in the decisions that Paper makes in defining impartiality. (Note: Paper uses the terms “objectivity” and “impartiality” somewhat interchangeably, but prefers the use of the latter.)
Mr. Michael O’Neill is the first person known to have mentioned the term preventive journalism. He is the former editor of the New York Daily News and his citation is in the book Preventive diplomacy: stopping wars before they start, in which he argues: “an early- warning approach to news coverage is needed to generate the critical mass of public knowledge, emotional engagement, and support required to inspire sluggish institutions to take note and possibly even to act in crises like the ones in Iraq or Yugoslavia” and journalists “should be searching past today’s news to discover the hidden pockets of misunderstanding, the undetected human tensions that will become headlines tomorrow, next week, or a year from now.” (Cahill, 71) The first quote is illustrative of a desire for journalism to achieve a specific goal in relation to the events, such as generating emotional engagement and support for organizations to act in crises. This comes fundamentally at odds with the notion of impartiality, which will be further discussed in section two. The second quote is more illustrative of a foresighted approach to reporting.
While the term was first mentioned by Mr. O’Neill, it came to greater prominence when Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, mentioned it in a speech in 1996. When he first mentioned the term, he did not offer many specifics, but in 1999, he elaborated further on the concept in honor of the World Television Day: “I would like to ask both the world’s television journalists, producers and programmers to reflect on the concept of “preventive journalism.” I do not mean to suggest that they should deviate from their first priority of reporting the facts. But I do believe that integrity and care in reporting the facts can be improved by a greater awareness of the effect those reports can have. Equally important, by drawing attention to abuses or potential conflicts in good time, the world’s media can give the international community the chance to do something about them before they explode in an all-out warfare” (United Nations). Paper’s definition somewhat differs from this approach and will be further explained in section four.
Section Two: Analysis of the impacts of each journalism genre
In The Impact of Investigative Reporting on Public Opinion and Policymaking Targeting Toxic Waste, Mr. David Protess, Ms. Fay Lomax Cook, Mr. Thomas R. Curtin, and Ms. Margaret T. Gordon aim to treat “field experiments as case studies from which we can develop empirically grounded theory that specifies the conditions under which investigative reports influence public agendas and policymaking priorities” (166).
Their findings on a specific Channel 5 investigation on toxic waste were that people who saw the televised series did not have an increased concern about the issue. People’s opinion of the various governmental agencies involved did, however, decrease very significantly. Channel 5 collaborated with the Chicago Fire Department and reported on the “crackdown” of the issue by the Department, hereby showing this as the “solution” to the issue. The authors discuss that the change in policy by the fire department was not brought about by public opinion, but more directly by the work and lobbying from the journalists.
They argue that there are two important factors in changing public opinion: “the nature of the media portrayal and the frequency of attention by the media to the issue in the past.” In investigative reports where the “villains” and “victims” are clearly defined, the story usually makes for powerful drama and has a great impact on the public. In the toxic waste story, however, the roles were not clearly defined, and the repetition of the various solutions that could be implemented throughout the report reduced the impact.
In 2006, a report produced by the Rainforest Action Network and published by Canadian Business showed that TD Bank, one of the major banks in Canada, was engaged in “greenwashing,” the use of marketing to give the impression of environmental friendliness without much factual basis. Due to the media coverage, TD Bank appointed a Chief Environmental Officer and changed most of its policies, an example of the impact of investigative journalism when it targets organizations in positions of power.
One of the most important criticisms of objectivity comes from Mr. David T. Z. Mindich in his book Just the Facts: How “Objectivity” Came to Define American Journalism. He argues that journalists’ objectivity in covering the issue of lynching from the 1880s to the 1960s contributed to normalizing the practice. While journalists would report the negative human consequences on one side, they would also report that “lynching was seen as a way for “civilized” whites to regulate the “savagery” of blacks.”
That being said, Mr. Ryan argues that a journalist should explain all the sides of a story as well as the reasoning behind them. He argues that one side of the story may turn out to be stronger, and “it is not necessary or desirable for the journalist to become an advocate for that position” (19). In other words, in the case of lynching, a journalist should have explained the reasoning behind those who perpetrated the act, might it be only for those who want to stop the practice to understand why it happens. The work of the journalist would be to explain accurately the negative effects on both “sides,” which would inevitably illustrate that there is much more suffering for those who fall victim of the lynching.
In an assessment of the coverage of the Vietnam war, Mr. Daniel Hallin discusses the level of impartiality that news organizations displayed as the war went on. He argues that “news content became substantially more critical as the war went on, and the pattern of change cannot be explained away as a simple reflection of the course of events” (7). He also discusses that when the media was more “neutral” toward the beginning of the war, the media ironically tended to lend itself more to the perspective of U.S. officials. These officials were also very successful in creating the news agenda, as their press releases often became the news, rather than what was actually happening on the ground. When the media started adopting a more critical approach to the war, the officials lost that momentum.
Certainly, one of the impacts of the shift was that readers and viewers were further exposed to a counter perspective to the one provided by the administration. It is unclear whether or not the population’s perspective of the war changed in accordance with the shift in reporting, but this is not the subject of the author’s study. Experts are often torn on the question of whether or not the media influences people’s political perspectives or if it only serves to provide greater depth to pre-existing ones. Nevertheless, the fundamental impact of the shift in reporting was that the population had a greater exposure to different perspectives. What should be learned from this is the necessity to provide as equal as possible an amount of coverage to all the groups that have a stake in an event rather than focussing primarily on the officials’ perspective.
The impacts of preventive journalism are not very well known and are usually rooted in theory and extrapolation. The concept has not been in existence long enough to be the subject of any peer- reviewed studies. That being said, Paper accepts several hypotheses advanced by the proponents of this new genre.
The only studies somewhat related to the subject of preventive journalism discuss the issue of suicide. A review of these studies has noted that whenever suicides are reported graphically or in-depth, or when suicide methods are thoroughly explained, the rate tends to increase as a result of people imitating what they were exposed to in the reporting. (Crane, Hawton, Simkin and Coulter 3) This issue is not relevant to our assessment of preventive journalism, however, since there is no “imitation effect” involved in the discussion of international issues. The goal of preventive journalism, as advanced by Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Annan, is to raise awareness about trends and patterns that might develop into larger issues. The effect of this awareness is generally regarded as positive since it is necessary that the information be available in order for people to respond. The imitation effect might be relevant for our discussion of the impacts of entrepreneurial journalism in section six.
A common criticism of international media, when pertaining to conflicts or other major poverty and environmental issues in developing countries, is that journalists “parachute in” whenever there is a situation of crisis (Okere). The text mostly discusses African media examples, but some of the points mentioned can be inferred to the work that should be expected of an international organization covering events and issues in developing countries. The author calls for the necessity of early warning in the development of major issues and that a “journalist needs to be protected if he is to help to avert another Rwanda and the disintegration of his continent.” Most importantly, however, he argues that one of the major factors preventing African journalists to engage in this form of investigative and preventive form of journalism is the lack of security provided for them, as they often face harassment and detainment. Foreign media can address this issue by taking the stories that are muzzled by the governments of developing countries and exposing them to the international community.
The impacts of preventive journalism, hence, can be extrapolated: if the information about events on the ground is made available to the international community, it makes it possible for international organizations to intervene, put pressure on local governments, and prevent harms from worsening. That being said, it is common knowledge that international organizations often refrain from intervening due to various reasons, including self-imposed restrictions not to engage in the domestic issues of certain countries, as was the case in Rwanda. Therefore, in assessing the impacts of preventive journalism, it is important to consider who receives the information. Western readers who become aware of the information may begin to put pressure on their governments, who in turn put pressure on the international community and on the governments of developing countries. However, while this theory may or may not prove to be valid, it is hard to verify. It should be a strong consideration for an international media organization to focus on the impact of the information’s availability to those who stand to benefit from it the most: the people in developing countries who are directly affected by the issues. This is an impact that has not been evaluated in any previous studies and that Paper hopes to evaluate more scientifically in the future.
Section Three: Innovations from Paper
In addition to the journalistic values already established in the field, Paper has innovated two new genres, which it currently labels as “cultural journalism” and “entrepreneurial journalism,” although the latter is subject to being renamed.
Cultural journalism primarily finds its roots in cultural relativism, which is at the basis of anthropology. Under this concept, events that occur within a culture are to be evaluated through the eyes of those who are part of that culture. We develop on the concept further by making all events seen through multiple cultural viewpoints. For Paper, cultural journalism has two goals: to address and expose cultural misconceptions directly, and to report on as many cultural viewpoints as possible. For example, we would report on the differences between extremist militant Islam and the religion as a whole. Furthermore, it would report on major international events such as the Afghan and Iraq wars and show every culture’s perspective as well as the reasoning behind.
This practice gives readers greater knowledge of different cultural perspectives. The mainstream media in America rarely reports on different cultures unless it involves a direct involvement with the United States. Regardless of the country to which we provide the information, international relations can benefit from populations who are more aware of cultural aspects, might it be only for readers to be more knowledgeable and closer to the truth about these aspects when making policy decisions. It serves as a break away from simplistic, one-sided perspectives about other cultures which are often found in the media. In other words, this method could contribute to the development of a more international perspective among readers.
Entrepreneurial journalism focuses on the initiatives taken by entrepreneurs in responding to events and issues. In their international reporting, most news organizations focus on the events that unfold. Our approach with entrepreneurial journalism is to compensate for the lack of reporting on the initiatives taken as a response to the events. Hence, the reader, rather than being a passive observer of these events that unfold, has an inside story of the people who take a proactive stance toward economic and social development. Our journalists remain objective and passive observers, but the reporting is inherently focussed on people who take an entrepreneurial approach toward issues rather than focussed on events which cannot be controlled directly.
Section Four: The mandate of Paper and the definitions chosen
Paper is a news organization that investigates economic and social issues across the world. In doing so, we do not seek to fulfill any particular mandate other than expanding our readers’ knowledge of the world. Despite the implementation of an impartial and scientific approach to our reporting since the beginning of the organization in June 2008, we noticed that we needed to further refine our standards not necessarily to reduce bias (which we saw as nonexistent or at least non-deliberate), but to reduce readers’ perception of bias. For example, some readers misattributed a left-wing bias to Paper because of our reporting’s focus on domestic issues that people face in foreign countries. These readers, when asked to provide their definition of “left-wing,” were not able to answer. Later on, we found out that in fact, those who provided us with this opinion were not readers because they had in fact not read the articles. Nevertheless, we sought to reduce website visitors’ perception of bias in a number of ways, which in part explains our in-depth exploration of investigative, impartial, preventive, cultural, and entrepreneurial journalism. Paper wishes to take a different approach to world events without taking a point of view. We felt it necessary to explore the various journalism genres at greater length to ensure that we took innovative approaches to international journalism while holding a very precise definition of impartiality that would be compliant with these approaches and keep perceived bias to a minimum.
Investigative journalism: Paper defines investigative journalism as identifying lapses from the truth and holding governments, companies, and organizations accountable. Earlier in this essay, I explored that pitting the press against those in positions of power was indicative of a loss of impartiality. This is something that we accept as an organization and we will ensure that our definition of impartiality is compliant with this position. Our reasons for this decision are as follows:
1. Our commitment to the truth is stronger than our commitment to impartiality. Of course, we seek to fulfill these two mandates to the best of our ability. However, in instances where they might come at odds with each other, as a general guideline, we would prioritize the identification of lapses from the truth for our readers’ knowledge even if this information turns out to be against a specific person, organization, or political affiliation. We will put great effort into identifying these lapses from the truth from as many varied entities as possible regardless of their political or other leanings, but never would we prevent ourselves to expose truths based on the only premise that they come at the disadvantage of some.
2. The lapses from the truth that involve those in positions in power are, oftentimes, the largest lapses. They are the ones that have the potential to affect the most people. As a result, we will contribute to exposing a greater amount of truth to our readers by specifically targeting these organizations. The truths that are hidden by those who bear little to no influence in the world’s state of affairs would provide very little marginal benefit or influence for the world to know.
3. We will follow strict guidelines of journalistic responsibility in exposing the information that we discover. For example, especially in coverage dealing with governments in developing countries, exposing information can turn out to be against the public interest. Governments in these countries are often very fragile and exposing sensitive information could weaken them to the point where it compromises their very foundations. In these regions of instability, we will exert special care with these investigations, and prevent ourselves to publish information if it may reasonably lead to the entire disbanding of a government, company, or organization rather than only increasing accountability.
Impartiality: On this notion, we hold that it is necessary to do more than simply be aware of the biases in order to produce quality reporting; guidelines must be established and followed in order to achieve the desired results. This is illustrative of the results approach that we take rather than one solely concerned with the methods of reporting. By drawing our policies directly from the reporting produced and assessing how readers view our impartiality, we can be more precise and comprehensive in establishing the policies necessary to maintain our image of impartiality. Our definition of impartiality, hence, includes that:
1. There should be no prejudice prior to the assessment of the issues we report on. Our journalists shall have no political or ideological affiliations of any kind and must be solely concerned with seeking the truth, which will be assessed through the application process by our HR department.
2. In order to avoid a perspective to dominate the discussion of an issue, as many perspectives as possible shall be included. The various perspectives should alternate and experts in relevant fields should assess the expected impacts of each policy discussed by referring to previous historical cases and using scientific methods. Our view of impartiality is not only to include all perspectives that we find are at odds with each other, but also to be highly critical of them and exposing when a policy cannot logically bring the assumed conclusions.
3. We will use focus groups to adjust our reporting and bring perceived bias to a minimum. We have already started by removing words that are politically charged and which have vague definitions, such as “left-wing” and “right-wing.” Another word that we avoid is “terrorist,” because one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. In all of our reporting, we seek to be as precise and accurate as possible in our description of the events by avoiding imprecise adjectives and refraining to use vague labels. We aim to make our list more and more comprehensive through time and discover new article structures that we can implement.
Preventive journalism: Paper has decided not to adhere to the full notion of preventive journalism. While investigation denotes an action that journalists engage in with implied indirect impacts, prevention denotes an action that seeks to influence events directly. It proved too hard a challenge to try to define this and make it compatible with our notion of impartiality. We believe that the notion of prevention blurs too strongly the line between journalism and activism. Instead, we prefer to practice a form of “foresighted journalism,” which seeks to report on the likely future developments of events and issues, without necessarily seeking to have a direct impact on them. Our definition, hence, lies in seeking the information that indicates likely developments of events into issues that either affect a greater number of people or affect them to a greater extent. Such issues could be, for example, the development of economic or social conditions that are conducive to the instigation of a conflict. Another example could be a government’s financial mismanagement that might lead to dire economic consequences for a country. In any case, the journalistic process involved is only concerned with predicting, with sensible reasoning based on scientific methods, the likely developments of major issues.
Section Five: Bridging the gaps between all journalism genres
There are multiple aspects that come at odds with each other between the genres discussed in this paper. This section discusses the policies and decisions by Paper about the issue.
In analyzing all the aspects of these different journalism genres, we assessed that there were at least four levels where they could be found: at the publication level, at the section level, at the topic level, and at the article level. What this means is that we could have chosen, for example, for Paper to be a publication that engages mostly in investigative journalism, which would mean that all articles are compliant with this genre. The section level would mean that our sections are divided depending on the journalism genre. The topic level would mean that our sections are traditionally divided by subject (politics, business, etc.), and we publish topics compliant with the different journalism genres across all sections. The article level would mean that one single article contains all the journalism genres in one (an investigative part, an analysis part, and so on).
Ultimately, we decided to go with the section level because it is the easiest and most innovative way to bridge the gap between the various genres. At the publication level, if we had chosen only one predominant genre, the other ones would have been tempered out when we believe that there is uniqueness and value to each of them. At the article level, we assessed that the clash between the various genres would render each of them ineffective and nearly unidentifiable. As was mentioned earlier, an investigative report that balanced each of the problems with their solutions had little to no effect on the viewers of the report other than confusing them. By separating the genres more directly, each of them would be allowed to thrive more strongly without as much dilution from the other ones, although they would still be present. Furthermore, it would very hard for any website visitor to be able to identify these innovations unless they read an article, and we need these innovations to be visible in order to differentiate from other organizations.
The decision between the topic level and section level was not so clear-cut. On one side, a division of sections by subject, with “journalism genre topics” across all sections, would have allowed for a more traditional and easier browsing of our articles. These “journalism genre topics” could have been color-coded within the subject sections for easier identification, hence fulfilling the goal of making our differentiation visible. On the other hand, a division of sections by genre (investigation, analysis, etc.) would make the identification of our difference even easier. Furthermore, it might be more acceptable for a reader to see a small bias within, for example, an investigative report in the investigation section rather than an investigative report in the politics section.
Our decision between these two options was finalized mostly with business principles:
1. We realize that our innovation with these new genres is the core of our product. Our product is not to report about politics, business, and the environment. Our product is the different approach taken in reporting about these subjects. Therefore, it is fundamental that the genres can be found at a higher level than the subjects. In the future, we plan to add subject division within each section.
2. No other organization divides sections in this manner. Time and time again, we have been asked what made us different from all the other websites that made their news available for free. Unless we do something fundamentally different from the rest of the crowd, we will not be seen as fundamentally different. And if we are not seen as fundamentally (and intelligently) different, we reasonably cannot expect people to pay for our product when it is readily available for free anywhere else. Therefore, while it might be tricky for first-time visitors to use this division of articles, they will at least notice that we are different and they will seek to understand. It is our job to make sure that it is easy for readers to find a clear explanation of each section.
It is also important to note that sections usually tailor to certain markets. For example, the Politics section of a newspaper is aimed at people who are interested in politics. In the same line of thinking, the Investigation section of Paper is aimed at people who are interested in investigative journalism. This market is smaller and can be considered a niche market, and therefore, it is easier to monetize.
3. Since the redivision of our sections to illustrate the journalism genres, we have added a new section: News. This new section sends a clear message to website visitors: what we are doing across the other sections are not news, but something more. In fact, news is not journalism; it is part of it, and it is a small part. Furthermore, my analysis of the business environment is that given the technological developments of the past few decades, news is now worth next to nothing. While newspapers and other traditional media used to be the only method to deliver them, the Internet has made it possible to follow the developments of any event for free. There is more to journalism than news, however, and this is
what we are concentrating on as a company. The division of News as a separate section would not have been possible under a traditional division by subject.
While most of our work in bridging the gap between the different journalism genres is concerned with their division in sections, some of their elements will of course remain within all articles. In all articles within the Investigation section, there will be a strong standard of impartiality enforced, although the articles will be allowed to exclusively cover governments and other institutions in power. All of our articles in the Analysis section will be fully impartial in analyzing the causes and possible solutions of issues, but may also include important investigative aspects as well. It would be hard to extrapolate in mere theory in which specific cases an Investigation article, for example, should be tempered in favor of impartiality. Now that our sections have been re-divided, this will be the subject of most of our work going forward.
Section Six: Potential impacts
The impact of Paper’s reporting is essentially the collection of all the impacts from each journalism genre. While there is basis in the literature for investigative, impartial, and preventive journalism, the impacts of cultural and entrepreneurial journalism can only be extrapolated for now given that they are innovations from the company.
There are many impacts that can be come as a result of our investigative reporting. For example, we are currently investigating the actions of a British bank which we have discovered might be involved in human rights violations in the DRC. As was noted earlier, when viewers (or readers) are exposed to investigative reports, their opinion of the companies or organizations being investigated decreases significantly. We can reasonably conceive that this is what will happen for the bank that we are investigating. This is an indirect impact rather than the goal that we seek, however. We see investigation and accountability as ends in themselves, rather than means to other ends. At an aggregate level, greater accountability will push fewer companies, governments, and organizations to engage in practices that people see as unethical for fear of being exposed.
While some articles may at times pit against a specific organization, the most important notion of impartiality that we hold is not to hold any prejudice. In other words, we analyze policies and actions of governments as they are, without any preconceived opinion of the political affiliation it comes from or the kind of organization being investigated. We will exert the same amount of scrutiny and criticism regardless of these factors. This does not mean, however, that we would show all perspectives as equally valid – such a position would only result in getting people confused and unable between the ideas that are valid and the ones that are not. What our method implies is that readers will be able to view opinions and ideas across all of the political spectrum with criticism and make up their own opinion. By avoiding the use of vague words or labels, and by describing events and perspectives as accurately as possible, we will rid our reporting of many of the shortcuts that people make in forming their opinions. Therefore, the impact of our reporting can be seen as one that forces people to abandon any and all preconceived political ideas, see different perspectives individually, and think about each of them critically while assessing their validity.
Foresighted journalism is meant to alarm readers of important future developments of issues. Just as many scholars have warned about the rise of global warming, we can reasonably expect more engagement about the issues that we raise awareness about. However, to engage in a foresighted form of journalism is for us, again, an end in itself. The assessment of whether or not the events or developing issues should be prevented is left to the interpretation of our readers and Paper does not take a position. Our reporting may be very useful for non-governmental organizations to do the prevention themselves, but we are only concerned with identifying the patterns of developing issues and making the information available to the world. As per the standards of our editorial policy, we focus on the issues that affect the most people or affect them to the greatest extent, a bias that we accept. Nevertheless, we feel that foresighted journalism is a genre that is lacking from the media landscape, and we are aware of many issues that would not have deteriorated had information been made easily available.
Cultural journalism is an interesting new concept, and as mentioned earlier, it takes its roots in cultural relativism. In showing multiple cultural viewpoints, we believe that this will help readers to acquire a greater knowledge of these differences. In addressing cultural misconceptions directly, readers will gain more understanding. Especially in cases where some cultures have militant subcultures, helping readers to differentiate between the two prevents them from incorrectly putting all the people of a certain culture within the same group. It can therefore be seen as a more accurate form of journalism specifically concerned with greater accuracy in reporting about cultures, and as is often the case, this greater accuracy will lead to greater knowledge and understanding.
As previously discussed, readers and viewers sometimes reciprocate the actions of an individual when these actions are the subject of in-depth reporting in the media. It is therefore a likely outcome of Paper‘s reporting will foster some reciprocation of the entrepreneurs we report about. Given our underlying focus on economic and social issues, our reporting would present business entrepreneurs as well as social entrepreneurs. Since it is our approach to ignore borders in our journalism, we hope that this would push readers to get involved and foster economic and social development internationally.
Section Seven: Conclusion
After this research, we are not so concerned anymore by finding the perfect balance between all the genres within a single article. We have determined that it is acceptable, if not preferable, to have journalism genres that are at times mutually exclusive. As a result of their separation, the genres are allowed to flourish and extend the reach of their impacts. While a reasonable balance between them within an article is necessary in order to ensure the quality of our reporting, the establishment of this balance will be primarily left to the expertise of our editors and we will improve our editorial policy as time goes by.
The journalism industry is in freefall and one of the ways that can contribute to its revival is a different journalistic approach to the issues. As stated earlier in this research, news have lost most of their value because traditional media no longer hold a monopoly on the delivery of information. Factual information about the newest developments of events is easily found anywhere on the Internet. Reporting the news and dividing them by topic, just like everyone else in the industry has been doing, will no longer do it. If the fourth estate wants to survive in this new era, it has to understand the difference between news and journalism, and focus its efforts on bringing more journalistic value to society in a distinctive and innovative way. We hope that Paper’s values approach, as well as its further developments, will be part of the solution.
Burgh, Hugo De. Investigative Journalism Context and Practice. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Cahill, Kevin M. Preventive Diplomacy: Stopping Wars before They Start. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Crane, Catherine, Keith Hawton, Sue Simkin, and Paddy Coulter. “Suicide and the Media: Pitfalls and Prevention.” Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 26.1 (2005): 42-47. Print.
Glasser, Theodore, and James Ettema. “Investigative Journalism and the Moral Order.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 6.1 (1989): 1-20. Print.
Hallin, Daniel C. “The Media, the War in Vietnam, and Political Support: A Critique of the Thesis of an Oppositional Media.” The Journal of Politics 46.1 (1984): 2. Print.
Okere, Linus Chukwuemeka. “The Role of African Media in Early Warning and Conflict Prevention Systems.” The Round Table 85.338 (1996): 173-82. Print.
Protess, David L., Fay Lomax Cook, Thomas R. Curtin, Margaret T. Gordon, Donna R. Leff, Maxwell E. McCombs, and Peter Miller. “The Impact of Investigative Reporting on Public Opinion and Policymaking Targeting Toxic Waste.” Public Opinion Quarterly 51.2 (1987): 166-85. Print.
Ryan, Michael. “Journalistic Ethics, Objectivity, Existential Journalism, Standpoint Epistemology, and Public Journalism.” Journal of Mass Media Ethics 16.1 (2001): 3-22. Print.
Tritter, Thorin. Rev. of Politics and the American Press: The Rise of Objectivity. Business History Review 2003. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. <http://www.hbs.edu/bhr/archives/bookreviews/77/2003winterttritter.pdf>.
United Nations. SecretaryGeneral Says Television Can Help World To Better Understand United Nations. United Nations. 19 Nov. 1999. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. <http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/1999/19991119.sgsm7228.doc.html>.
Ward, Stephen J. “Utility and Impartiality: Being Impartial in a Partial World.” Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22.2/3 (2007): 151-67. Print.