Sunday, January 10, 2010

Journalism is a service job

Originally uploaded by Akbar Simonse
In today´s Helsingin Sanomat a veteran public radio journalist Olli Ihamäki from YLE gives a wonderful but all too rare description of what a good journalist actually should do. He criticizes the current trend in radio where the audience is left to listen to a discussion between the host and a guest and where the role of the journalist is to fill the gaps between music.

Ihamäki reminds that the journalist should always be on the side of the listener. Quote from the article:
"Ihamäki´s ideal would be that the reporter would not come to the studio at all but would spend the day at swimming halls, in trams and in office buildings interviewing people."

How different would our newspapers and radio stations be if more journalists would follow this logic? It would bring a different kind of randomness to the broadcast but also challenge the journalists to use their medium to the full. As Ihamäki points out, the trend seems to be that journalists are more often leaving the description of things to experts rather than relying on their own professional skills.

Having mobile journalists or journalists assigned to different parts of town would be a great move towards citizen journalism whilst still maintaining journalistic standards. It would challenge journalists to open up the logic and processes of their work to the audience much more. Journalists would become trusted members of their respective communities, which most likely would bring across very different stories than we hear now. This is what the best regional papers still rely on - building stories out of the activities of people. Spending time with people usually has that influence that you become interested in people.

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