Characteristics of Journalism

Portrait of a News Reporter Wearing a Raincoat and Holding an Umbrella and a Microphone

Journalism has changed in recent decades, as technological advancements continue to influence consumers' media consumption habits. While there may be new characteristics to the field, many basic tenets of journalism remain.

Search for the Truth

Journalism sprang into existence out of the public's need to know and understand their world around them. In the United States, the value of allowing news outlets to operate independently of the government was seen as so overwhelmingly important, it was specifically noted in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Citizens of free, democratic nations the world over have depended on journalists to provide information about their governments and the world without the interference of political officials who would prefer to keep the public in the dark.

Maintaining Ethical Standards

Journalism is built on the pillars of truth and reliability, which is why the profession has maintained a strict code of ethics. This is to ensure that people can trust the information provided by news outlets and the journalists who work for them. Industry organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists strive to guarantee that members understand and follow a core set of ethical standards that protect the integrity of journalism. Some standards put forth by SPJ specify that members are responsible for the accuracy of their work and that journalists clearly identify information sources whenever possible.

News Is Always Breaking

One characteristic of journalism in the modern era is that news is consumed 24 hours a day, thanks in large part to the Internet and cable news channels. Life is always happening, and media consumers want to know about major events as they occur. Major media outlets have 24-hour operations to meet this demand, while smaller outlets may partner with larger organizations or have a smaller late night staff to monitor local and global events.

Technology Meets Journalism

For centuries, journalism was confined to the pages of local newspapers, but all of that changed with the Internet. With the Internet came a wealth of platforms in which consumers can obtain their news. Websites, blogs, social media and other content-driven platforms provide different mediums to access news. Content must now not only be Web compatible, but also able to fit devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. Breaking news can even be sent to a person's smartphone via an application housed on a mobile device.

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