Media Training for Citizen Journalists

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This section is under construction: March 2016

The Basics of Journalism as a Craft

For: citizen journalists, alternative journalists,
progressive journalists, & movement journalists

Why Bother with the Learning Curve?

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “OBJECTIVE” OR “NEUTRAL JOURNALISM.

BUT IN A DEMOCRACY
JOURNALISTS PLAY A SPECIAL ROLE
BY PROVIDING FAIR AND ACCURATE REPORTING
TO ASSIST THE DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMED CONSENT

Serious journalism provides the basis for the informed consent needed for democracy to function properly The rise of more democratic and unfiltered horizontal media, especially the Internet, has created a much larger group of people who consider themselves “citizen journalists” or “movement journalists.” This has resulted in participants holding discussions about what it means to be a journalist—especially one where traditional training and editing is seldom a reality. A panel at Left Forum 2012 in New York City explored the ethical dilemmas faced by “movement journalists” embedded in the Occupy Wall Street movement in several cities.

The full credits page explains more about how this resource was constructed by a group of progressive alternative journalists.

-Chip Berlet

Ethics for Journalists

  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t fabricate information.
  • Don’t “cook” quotes by modifying them without the explicit premission of the person being quoted.
  • Don’t plagiarize from other writers, give proper credit.
  • Ethical journalists and writers strive for fairness and accuracy, even when they think the idea of actual neutral “objectivity” is ridiculous.”
  • When possible, “double source”: i.e. confirm what someone tells you through another source.
  • Never assume that the collection of facts and assumptions, and the point of view that you have arrived at, is the “truth.”
  • Never assume that you know everything there is to know about a story. Don’t hesitate to quote from sources that conflict with your viewpoint if they offer a valid point of view or provide context.
  • Don’t make fun of people in a personally malicious or vicious way, it makes you look cheap and the person being attacked look like the underdog. It’s also just wrong. Satire and humor are fine–character assassination is foul.
  • If you make a mistake, apologize profusely and put up a correction as soon as possible.

Tools of the Craft

Basics of Responsible Journalism