Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trust Me...

I stopped to really take this in the other day while reporting: Our viewers trust us. Completely.

That's a powerful thing to remember and I think it's something news people take for granted a lot. They trust us on every issue. I can't remember a single time I've done a live shot and not gotten asked a question. If a passerby sees me in front of that camera, they assume I know everything about whatever is going on.

But the trust goes deeper: They trust we are always right. They trust we are unbiased. They trust we tell the truth, are smart, are balanced, are fair, have their interests in mind...the list goes on.

My parents always said "trust is earned." But our viewers just give it to us. From the moment you sit down at the news desk, step in front of the camera, or put a story on air, you have their complete trust. It's not earned- it's given. It's given to us by our viewers because of the four letters on our polos, the logo on our mic flag.

But their trust can be a heavy load to carry. In exchange for trusting us, viewers (almost unknowingly) demand our knowledge, creativity, enthusiasm, professionalism...They demand our perfection. When a live report goes off without a hitch, the desk probably won't get a single call. But if someone messes up, viewers most certainly notice. They are let down.

The way I see it, if stopping to remember how much our viewers trust us and/or kicking off sweeps this week doesn't make you want to be a better journalist than you were yesterday, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Believe in...Journalism

The Chilean miners almost all free!

I've been watching their rescue and journey to the surface since late last night. It's been pretty difficult to tear my eyes away from the television once I start watching...and I've seen the same thing in other viewers. I was watching the rescue earlier today on a TV in the student union, when I took a moment to look around. Many of the other people were mesmerized by the event unfolding on the TV screen. The footage is undeniably quite moving- seeing the miners greet their loved ones, fall to their knees in prayer, or silently cry.

And it was while watching the rescue unfold on TV that paused to think about journalism. Many people in my generation (the primary audience in the student union) don't watch very much, if any, television news. But today, an inordinate number of eyes were fixated on that screen.

You can argue that whenever there is a big news story, this is the case. And that's pretty true. I remember the same sort of phenomenon when the Columbine High School massacre happened. But today, I realized something was different. The content of the program was positive and uplifting. People are so quick to talk about the pervasive negativity of television news...and unfortunately, that's often the case.
But today was different.

I don't know how anyone could hear about or watch this story develop over the past couple months and not be struck by what we all saw today. I don't think there was a person who wasn't talking, texting, tweeting, or facebooking about the miners' rescue.
That's when it hit me: journalism lets you believe

Amongst all the bad news, there are still those stand-out stories that put a ray of sunshine in the day. Watching those miners embrace their wives and children, fall to their knees and give thanks, or stand silently and cry was a powerful experience. Journalism lets you believe in something other than the bad, the mundane, the heartbreaking. Journalism helps you believe in the good in humans, God, a higher power, good karma, luck, fate...the list goes on. The journalism I saw about the story of the Chilean miners' rescue today was absolutely beautiful.

The way I see it, journalism lets you believe in something more.