Journalism still has a future despite its hiccups and challenges thanks to passionate young reporters. But Americans need to step up as well.

I’ve learned a few things, and developed stronger stances on several other things I thought I knew after discussing journalism with the 15 high school students attending our camp at Eastern Illinois University.

1. It’s tough to determine what to believe with so many real and false news websites, and even when real news sources fail to be as objective as they should be.

2. Working journalists should refrain from offering personal opinions, snarky comments or anything else that even slightly diminishes one’s integrity. Use social media to share verifiable information and to promote media content. Reporters can even share about their life, if appropriate and not political.

3. This next generation is far smarter, determined and engaged than older people want to believe. I’ve been fortunate to spend decades with those comprising the next generation. They keep getting better in some ways and a bit worse in others, depending on what older generation is doing the assessment.

4. Cable news is infecting all media with its churn of flammable issues, especially related to politics. How about covering more news, and doing so without so much commentary and without political advocates spinning the news? That would be nice, huh?

5. Clicks are also hurting journalism. The least worthy content often trumps the best. We watched Spotlight last night, which made my soul hurt when, afterward, I had to reflect on today’s news coverage. There are so many talented journalists working right now, but they often need to chase easy, “fun” stuff because it takes less time and receives more clicks. I blame corporate greed and weak senior editors, along with ….

6. … American citizens who refuse to pay for news as our parents and grandparents had done. The older generations read the news, kept informed and better understood how the world works. If we don’t pay for news, we won’t get the same excellent coverage.

7. I remain hopeful, though, as always—thanks, in part, to seeing the passion, intelligence and empathy displayed by these young students in camp but also because so many equally sharp, passionate journalists volunteer their time to help inspire and educate this next generation.

 

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About jgisondi

I am the author of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports," the second edition now available from Congressional Quarterly Press/SAGE, and "Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot" (U of Nebraska Press). Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition goes beyond general guidance about sports writing, offering readers practical advice on covering 20 specific sports. From auto racing to wrestling, author Joe Gisondi gives tips on the seemingly straightforward—like where to stand on the sideline and how to identify a key player—along with the more specialized—such as figuring out shot selection in lacrosse and understanding a coxswain’s call for a harder stroke in rowing. In the new Second Edition, readers also explore sports reporting across multimedia platforms, developing a foundational understanding for social media, mobile media, visual storytelling, writing for television and radio, and applying sabermetrics. Fully revised with new examples and updated information to give readers confidence in covering just about any game, match, meet, race, regatta or tournament, Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition is the ideal go-to resource to have on hand when mastering the beat. In "Monster Trek," Joe Gisondi brings to life the celebrities in bigfoot culture: people such as Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum, and Cliff Barackman, who explore remote wooded areas of the country for weeks at a time and spend thousands of dollars on infrared imagers, cameras, and high-end camping equipment. Pursuing the answer to why these seekers of bigfoot do what they do, Gisondi brings to the reader their most interesting—and in many cases, harrowing—expeditions. You can order both from Amazon.
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