There are principles involved.
1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.
3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.
I’ve loved these principles since I first laid eyes on them back in 2011, when I was building Penmanshift. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 7 have particularly resonated with me, as someone aspiring to be somewhat journalistic with his magazine-themed blogging efforts over the years.
(I’ve long struggled with #7, but the recent Gearbox Magazine reboot is working on that.)
The Pew Research Center’s “Project for Excellence in Journalism” (where I originally found these principles back in 2011 as I was building out Penmanshift) was eventually renamed the Journalism Project and I can only guess you’d need the Wayback Machine to find the page today.
Regardless, they stand the test of time.
There’s a real difference between news and journalism these days. And there’s an even bigger difference between publishing blog posts or magazine articles (note the semantics, there, people—please) and practicing journalism.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve had TWO article ideas that absolutely require me to get as close to real, actual journalism as I possibly can. These ideas thrill the living shit out of me.
And I’ll be damned if these pieces aren’t at least 100% more difficult than simply cranking out another ideological, next level gearhead-type editorial.
Journalism is the real deal. And it’s hard, yo.