Who are we?

By Chris Ryndak

In this class, we are learning how to be journalists. But who do we really represent with the stories we’re writing?

When I worked at the Spectrum and needed to talk to someone, I always had that piece of information to fall back on — that I worked at the Spectrum.

The person I was interviewing then trusted me to accurately and honestly attribute their quotes and information in a legitimate publication.

That leads me to a major concern I have about our assignment for this class. If I have to call someone like Gerald Schoenle, chief of University Police, for the article we’re supposed to write, how do I approach him?

More importantly, how do I present myself?

In a time when we are questioning who a journalist really is, how do I call an expert for statistics and insight without any credibility to my name?

Essentially, I’m writing a paper for a class. But writing a news piece is really so much more than that. Journalism sometimes forces us to look past the basic facts and ask, “Why?” You don’t get that with your run-of-the-mill term paper.

But in the context of this class, we’re more students than journalists.

There’s no way Deep Throat would have talked to Woodward if Woodward was simply a student in English 106.

Now I know we’re not working on stories of that magnitude, with anonymous sources and the like, but why should anyone take little old me seriously if were I to call a department within the university and ask for information, irregardless if that information is public knowledge?

How do I ensure that it’s all done in a professional manner, even if the story I’m writing may never see print in any public periodical?

One response to “Who are we?

  1. Chris,

    Content: 4 Good points. Timely. Related to class assignments. Watch your headlines. Make sure you include keywords.

    You raise good questions. Luckily I have answers:
    1. As you know, much of journalism is about attitude. Speak professionally, look responsible, show up on time, return calls/mails and sources will take you seriously, even if you don’t have a paper behind you or the article never sees print.

    2. People love to talk. You will be surprised how much and how little they care about your credentials. I’m not talking about the White House here, but I don’t think campus officials will ignore you or treat you with indifference. (If, however, you run into a problem, let me know.)
    3. Increasingly, bloggers are uncovering stories without the backing/clout of big papers. They are doing it through attention to detail and hard work. (It was a blogger remember who brought down Dan Rather (ask me if you don’t know about this). It’s bloggers who are revealing inconsistencies in candidate’s promises, irregularities within local governments and social injustice.) Woodward and Bernstein had the backing of the WP, but they were young and inexperienced when they broke the Watergate story. But they were also tenacious, energetic and diligent. You can be, too.

    Links: 2 I found your links rather dull. The Whoopi Goldberg link has no real relevance that I can see. Bias in news and Fox is a separate issue from what you are saying. The Poynter link is fine, but not fabulous. (Did you learn something from the piece? ) What value does seeing the clip of Redford serve? It doesn’t bring anything to the piece or take what you are saying somewhere new. In short, you can do better. Don’t get lazy with your links. Readers will know and stop coming to you.
    Grammar: 3 You are a strong writer. Clear, concise sentences.
    Try to cut even more fat. Only include words you need.
    For instance:But writing a news piece is really so much more than that.
    Do you need the really so much? See how it’s tighter without the clutter?

    Finally, your last line needs work. I have no idea what the it’s all done refers to.

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