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.