Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism
Thomas E. Patterson
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
As the journalist Walter Lippmann noted nearly a century ago, democracy falters “if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news.” Today’s journalists are not providing it. Too often, reporters give equal weight to facts and biased opinion, stir up small controversies, and substitute infotainment for real news. Even when they get the facts rights, they often misjudge the context in which they belong.
Information is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. Public opinion and debate suffer when citizens are misinformed about current affairs, as is increasingly the case. Though the failures of today’s communication system cannot be blamed solely on the news media, they are part of the problem, and the best hope for something better.
Patterson proposes “knowledge-based journalism” as a corrective. Unless journalists are more deeply informed about the subjects they cover, they will continue to misinterpret them and to be vulnerable to manipulation by their sources. In this book, derived from a multi-year initiative of the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation, Patterson calls for nothing less than a major overhaul of journalism practice and education. The book speaks not only to journalists but to all who are concerned about the integrity of the information on which America’s democracy depends.
University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Syracuse University’s S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; and the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Communication.2 Each program was awarded a grant to develop course work aimed at deepening students’ knowledge of their reporting subjects. “The goal,” explained Gregorian, “is to offer students a deep and multilayered exploration of complex subjects … to undergird their journalistic
programs were to develop more advanced graduate training, they would also be better positioned to offer midcareer and executive education programs similar to those offered by business and public policy schools. FIVE * * * The Audience Problem Now the problem of securing attention … is a problem of provoking feeling in the reader, of inducing him to feel a sense of identification with the stories he is reading. News which does not offer this opportunity to introduce oneself into
Internet sites that regularly refresh their content, typically in the form of short updates, have what Web analyst Jakob Nielsen calls “stickiness”—the willingness of users to return to the site regularly.82 Frequent updates, and light fare, clearly have a place in the news. Yet it is a mistake to assume that they are the key to attracting a loyal audience. It is a mistake, too, to conclude that knowledge is important for deeper pieces but not for brief updates. The hurried-up pace of today’s
Patricia Moy and Michael Pfau characterize today’s journalists.60 Without doubt, a healthy dose of negativity is a good thing.61 There’s a lot of political puffery and manipulation that needs to be exposed, and the press would fail in its public responsibility by not doing so. Yet a constant barrage of criticism clouds people’s thinking, as a 1995 survey by Harvard’s Robert Blendon demonstrated. Respondents were asked whether the trends in inflation, unemployment, crime, and the federal budget
change in journalists’ practices of newsmakers social science methods and types of, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 See also “knowledge-based journalism”; specific type or source of knowledge “knowledge-based journalism” as answer to corruption of information audience and benefits of, itr.1, 4.1, 4.2 Carnegie-Knight Initiative and and challenges facing journalism and change in journalists’ approach characteristics of as combination of knowledge and practice digital technology and function of