In the light of the disaster on Haiti and how it is being reported in the news by some journalists there have been a few journalism mouthpieces who have questioned said reporting. Now the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has come out and cautioned its members against making themselves a part of the news that they are reporting.
We are all pretty familiar by this point of Anderson Cooper saving a little boy’s life or of Sanjay Gupta providing limited medical care to a 15 week old baby and operating on a young lady with a head injury. However this is the type of thing that the SPJ is saying that reporters need to stay away from.
As SPJ President Kevin Smith has been quoted as saying
“I think it’s important for journalists to be cognizant of their roles in disaster coverage,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. “Advocacy, self promotion, offering favors for news and interviews, injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility.”
Look I’m not naive enough to believe that a lot of this style might be great for rating and that the suits at CNN aren’t rubbing their hands together in glee of the ratings bonanza. However I think there is also something larger at play here.
What I would say to people like Kevin Smith is welcome to the world of ‘social news reporting‘. This is no longer the world of reporting where Walter Cronkite, God bless his soul, would feel comfortable. It is the world of news though that people who want to be touched, to be engaged and to be able to respond to are making.
It is the reporters like Cooper, Gupta and others that are a willing participants of the movement to bring social media to the world of news. It is people like you and me who are saying that we want the people bringing us our news to be real people with real feelings and concerns about the news that they are reporting.
This is why traditional media and organizations like SPJ are falling by the wayside and marginalizing themselves. Just as our world is changing so is the way our news is being reported to us.