Since starting my journalism course I have learnt much about the tools of the journalism trade, and the skill set one must possess to practice proficiently. However, it is evident that success as a modern journalist requires more than just good writing skills.
Values such as integrity and curiosity are vital when it comes to creating and compiling stories, and can be the difference between a good piece of work and a great one. Taking interest in a topic is what drives a story forward; scratching beneath the surface of an idea, a willingness to think outside the box, continuously asking questions and always searching for answers. This curious nature paired with a moral conscience allows a journalist to produce a great piece, while respecting the people involved.
As a journalist in the digital age, I believe that working with integrity is more important now than ever. The surge in online media has seen a rise in tabloid type articles, many of which lack the basis of fact-checking that reputable print media publications pride themselves on. Most of this content is generated by blogging sites rather than news media, but it still affects the way the public perceive journalists, and the journalism profession, as a collective. Because of this we need to be demonstrating a strong moral code in the way we report, to protect those we write about, as well as ourselves.
A few years back I read an article in the Good Weekend (it is also up online) that I believe to be a brilliant example of how these values, curiosity and integrity, can create a powerful story. It was a feature about the Gatwick in St Kilda, and captured me with its depth and colour. The author’s interest in the lives of the residents and the rooming house itself added an emotional, dimension to the piece. He was writing about people with drug addictions, severe mental health issues, and criminal pasts in a way that seemed real and respectful. There was no sense of judgement or exploitation in his words.
I believe it is this approach to journalism that sets one apart from the rest, and these values should be strengthened, not forgotten, in the digital age.