Lessons Journalists Can Learn from Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart might have gotten his start in comedy, but his work on The Daily Show made him a trustworthy source for news. He became one of the most rational-sounding voices in television.

Stewart always kept some humor about the news and its analysis. He was also never afraid to take a tough stance when there was a clear line between right and wrong. His crew was never scared to satirize spin, belittle, bombast, and call out the blatant hypocrisy of politicians, journalists, or the average person on the street.

When Stewart was the face of The Daily Show, its website told people that the program had an anchor, five correspondents, and no credibility. It never pretended to have integrity or accuracy, but the information that the team provided always seemed to be closer to the truth.

The Best Lesson is to Stop Taking Yourself Seriously

A journalist is there to report the news. People don’t want opinions or thoughts. They want to know what is happening in their community, country, and the rest of the world.

That is only the first lesson. Here are a few more.

1. News is a Choice

A 24-hour news industry means that multiple networks have tons of information to find for people to consume. It is up to each person to choose what they want to see or hear.

2. You Don’t Need to Present Both Sides

Donald Trump is a polarizing figure because he attempts to cater to all sides while still trying to offer a moral foundation. There are some incidents when “very fine people” aren’t on both sides. Sometimes, no one falls into that category. Instead of trying to show everything, journalists can walk away from the idea of false balance.

3. Walk Away From the Commercialism

The people who pay the piper are the ones that dictate the message. Advertisers leverage their influence on news organizations all of the time by pulling their funding when a story or viewpoint comes out that they don’t like. If you want to focus on the news as a journalist, you can’t be in a position to be bought.

4. Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Being a journalist doesn’t mean that you try to make yourself look good. The goal is to convey a specific story to others that you care about in some way. When what you’re reporting on seems dull or boring, that message gets conveyed to everyone else.

Jon Stewart learned that sometimes you must stand up for what is right – no matter what the consequences are afterward. Today’s journalists should learn to do the same.

How Long Should My Introduction be for an Article?

The introductory paragraph of an article serves as your thesis statement. It is what hooks a reader to what you plan to convey in the body of the post to follow.

This basic understand can be applied to just about any creative work. From writing blog posts to copywriting for a brand like BrainMD and Integrative Therapeutics, where the brand needs to grab the reader’s attention so they capture the attention of the reader. This works best if you are clear, precise, and straightforward with your initial statement.

Be bold with your statement. Then support your argument with the rest of your content.

50 Words or Less as a Best Practice

The number of sentences found in your introduction is less important than its actual length. You should try to keep your presentation to about 50 words.

Placing that limitation on your writing forces your creativity into a place where you must be precise with your words. Fluff and fillers don’t belong in your thesis statement.

If you are writing a longer piece of literature, such as a novel or a 50-page research paper, your introduction will be more extensive because there is more information to cover. You might have the intro be a couple of pages in length.

Long papers still follow the 50-word rule when determining the overall thesis statement of the piece. Even novels adopt this rule.

Think about some of the iconic first lines in some books. 

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. 

That piece from Little Women sets the stage for the rest of the story, drawing up the curtain of imagination’s stage to encourage the reader to keep going.

How to Write an Incredible Introduction

1. Grab the attention of the reader immediately. Use an anecdote, relevant quote, or a specific fact that startles the individual to keep reading.

2. Provide some background information for your thesis statement. It helps to offer some generalized content before being specific.

3. Be bold with your thesis statement. Arguments are meant to be controversial because that is how you cause an echo chamber to grow silent. Get as many of your main points as possible into the introduction.

4. An introduction that is too short is as problematic as one that is too long. You need to grab the reader’s attention, transition them to the rest of the text, and establish the theme of your narrative.

5. Learn and understand the ACE writing method. This will help you to form a more cohesive and factual article that will make going back and reviewing your introductory paragraph easier.

Writing has some generalized rules to follow, but it is essential to remember that some were meant to be broken. The introduction should be as long as it needs to be to convey information to others.

How Gonzo Journalism Informs and Engages the Public

Gonzo journalism is a form of reporting that never claims to offer objectivity. People who write in this area often use first-person narratives and opinions as a way to convey information to others. Hunter S. Thompson was the first to popularize this style, being the protagonist in the report while providing self-satire and social critique.

The goal of gonzo journalism is to offer a detached style using quotes and facts to relay data without the verification of third-party sources. Instead of using a strictly-edited report that sees multiple people making changes to it, Thompson used this method to create a personal approach. It is not uncommon to use exaggeration and profanity in a piece as a way to drive home a critical point.

Interestingly enough, it was a critique of Thompson’s work that led to this term. Editor Bill Cardoso of The Boston Globe called one of Hunter S. Thompson pieces about the Kentucky Derby as “pure gonzo journalism,” using the reference to describe the last man standing after drinking all night long.

Fiction is the Best Fact in Gonzo Journalism

Thompson always believed that journalistic objectivity was a myth. Everyone has a preference for specific stories or how to frame them. Instead of pretending that this perspective didn’t exist, he decided to embrace it with his writing style. It was a notion once made popular by William Faulkner, another writer who believed that fiction created the best facts.

Although Thompson’s iconic work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is seen as one of the best examples of gonzo journalism, he always thought of the work as a failure. Thompson wanted it to be an unedited work of his efforts, but it ended up going through five different revisions before going to publication.

Even when Thompson wrote columns and articles for local papers, he refused to go through the standardized editing process. He purposely submitted items late so that they couldn’t be edited before going to the printer.

The outcome of this work became the foundation of the webzine culture that developed in the late 1990s. One could even say that the “fake news” propagated on social media is derived from Thompson’s approach.

“Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long,” Thompson once observed. He didn’t get any satisfaction from that view. His thought was that a writer should put themselves into each piece – so that’s what he did.

What Functions Do the Media Serve in Democratic Politics?

Even when post-communist countries embrace the idea of democracy, strict laws often prevent the media from reporting on political activities.

In Central America, the opposite issue occurs. A select group of powerful families owns most of the media in the region. Their approach to reporting can threaten the democratic governing gains that take shape.

Some countries have media that gets entirely controlled by the government. Then there are the platforms in the United States that have massive access and freedoms to report on almost anything.

What functions do the media service in democratic politics?

Media Does More Than Reporting the News

The media has a surprising amount of power in the Democratic process. Most people get their information from journalists than from any other resource. That means it shapes the way that people think and feel about the world.

In the American version of media, you can see organizations taking one political side over the other by slanting reports in one direction or the other. MSNBC tends to side on the side of liberalism, while Fox News is the typical standard-bearer for conservatism.

Media bias can be a significant issue, although the biggest complaints usually involve a liberal perspective on those with conservative views. 

The issue involves a misperception of the journalism type used to convey information. Four different options are available: partisan, objective, interpretive, and yellow.

It is not unusual to see a conflation of partisan journalism with the objective form.

Journalists cannot report on every possible news account. That means reporters and editors determine what items rise to newsworthy status. By choosing the stories presented to the public, an agenda of importance gets set that shapes public debate. This function is a form of signaling that can influence the government at the highest levels. 

William Randolph Hearst used his newspapers in the late 19th century to talk about how cruel the Spanish were with their colonial governing practices. When the USS Maine exploded mysteriously, the press blamed Spain for the issue. It would result in the start of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The media sees their role in a Democracy as holding people accountable to their role in government. Reporters work to find the truth, expose hypocrisy, and keep things fair and balanced. That structure works if their own bias doesn’t come into play when presenting information to the public. 

Journalism Questions to Ask While Shadowing a Reporter

Journalism is more than the job of reporting the news. It also embraces the art of the interview.

The best journalists in the world are unafraid to ask tough questions. That means it is essential to perform research about individuals and subject material before going into an interview. 

If you are shadowing a reporter to learn this trade, then several essential questions are important to ask.

“What is a day like in this job?”

This question can give you more insight into what it is like to be a reporter. Although people see or read the final report, most don’t know how much downtime happens when gathering information. You need to be ready at a moment’s notice to report the news.

“Is the work what you thought it would be?”

It is essential to know if working as a reporter in real-life is the same as the expectations you have when shadowing. Talking to them about their experiences can help you to see if this work is something that you want to do.

“Do you enjoy working as a reporter?”

Most people will lie when answering this question because they don’t want to scare people away from a career. You don’t experience that issue as often in journalism. Reporting the news requires a fact-based approach. If someone can’t handle the truth when shadowing, then how can they ask tough questions at the right time?

“What classes would you recommend taking?”

This question is a crucial one to ask for anyone shadowing a reporter without an undergraduate degree. Knowing what classes to take can help you to pursue a major that can help you to break into journalism in the future. Some schools might only offer English, Literature, or Forensics options, which is why having an idea of how others broke through can help you to start planning.

“How did you get this job?”

Picking the brain of a reporter can get you some solid advice about how to apply for a job in the future. If you need contacts in the industry to get some interviews, then this time is the place to secure that information. 

You should also ask any follow-up questions to the answers received if you need more information. When you come into the shadowing process as prepared as a reporter should be in any situation, then you can discover if this job is the right one for you. 

How Journalists Adapted to Quarantine During COVID-19

As businesses shut down because of stay-at-home orders, essential workers were told to telecommute whenever possible. That meant many journalists could offer their reports without going into the field.

Will Reeve, a reporter from ABC News, offered a segment for the show Good Morning America in April, where he was caught not wearing any pants. He had a jacket and shirt on, but then a bare leg made it onto the national broadcast. At least Reeve could poke fun at himself on Twitter afterward.

Some reporters are still operating as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic because of their duties, supplementing their routines with products from brands like Metagenics, Perque, and Seeking Health

Even then, you will see some differences in how they report the news because of this pandemic.

1. Social Distancing

Journalists are now interviewing people by staying six feet away from them. You can also see reporters using Facetime, Zoom, and other video conferencing tools to gather information from sources instead of a face-to-face meeting.

2. Ingenuity

Teleprompters aren’t available today in the field because journalists are working solo instead of with a team. That means a piece of glass with a smartphone becomes a replacement option so that a reporter can see what needs to be said. Some are even put a blanket over themselves so that a voiceover piece can be recorded successfully.

3. Shift Rotation

Instead of sending one reporter to White House briefings, CNN implemented a schedule of rotating shifts to limit exposure risks. This approach is applied at local stations around the world whenever possible, keeping journalists away from the public unless there is no other way to gather the news.

4. Personal Protective Equipment

Journalists are wearing the same protective equipment that you can find first responders using – except for N95 respirators. Since reporters can find themselves interacting with others unexpectedly, they are almost forced to be in their PPE full time.

5. Storyboards

Some reporters are unable to gather the shots needed for a report. Sending someone out to film specific details can be challenging, which is why many are creating storyboards similar to what you’d see for movies and TV shows. This information makes it possible to have multiple people working on a project with a minimum number of people leaving home.

As lockdown orders end and quarantines become a distant memory, many of the innovations that journalists pioneered during this time will likely stay in place. Although you can’t replace a man-on-the-street interview, it is easier to do it on Skype.

Every Aspiring Journalist Should Practice the ACE Writing Method

Journalists have come under intense pressure from the Trump Administration for reporting what gets described as “fake news.”

Whether the attacks are justified or not is an observation that typically falls along party lines.

One of the ways that an aspiring journalist can counter these accusations is to practice the ACE writing method. When your sources can provide essential information that speaks the truth, then any charge of falsehood becomes irrelevant.

Here is what you need to know about the ACE writing method today.

A: Answer the Question

The ACE writing method requires journalists to provide a complete answer to any questions that get asked. Then you would use the keywords from the question in the answer to promote a specific thesis for the reader to contemplate. When you structure this step correctly, then you present a realistic claim that encourages everyone to look further into what you’re discussing.

C: Cite the Evidence from the Text

Research is your best friend as a journalist. You need to approach each assignment in the same manner that an attorney presents a case to the court. When you can cite precedent from previous stories or incidents, then the information provides validity to the claims offered in your account.

You must use clear and specific examples from your research that support your claim. Then the writing must describe, define, provide, and refer the particular details needed to suggest that the story you offer is real instead of fantasy, or a formal expression of opinion.

If you quote exact words or phrases from your research, then use quotations for that data. Then cite the location where you found the materials so that others can verify your work.

E: Explain the Connection

Once you lay out the evidence that supports the claim being made in your piece, aspiring journalists must explain the connection for readers. If you assume that people can connect-the-dots independently, then you leave the text open to interpretation – and that’s how you get accused of developing fake news.

Then use the ACE writing method to elaborate on the support you offer from the examples shared in the story. Each effort you make in this effort should answer the “why” questions that readers have after engaging with your work.

Once you use the ACE writing method to complete a story, it is essential to summarize all of the shared information into a concise conclusion. That action will help the reader relate to your initial thesis, creating a complete work that your publisher can appreciate. 

Cross Reporting: Does It Promote Public Safety Awareness?

Cross reporting is a process that interagency and interdisciplinary structures use to share information. It looks toward ensuring appropriate and comprehensive services and responses occur within the public realm.

It is a best practice for communities because safety and welfare issues are adequately addressed with a coordinated response instead of individual efforts. Cross reporting allows relevant disciplines and agencies to share resources and expertise while offering support to one another.

When it is an effective practice, cross reporting supports a collaborative effort that can strengthen alliances in each community. It also has the power to improve future processes because multiple departments or agencies gain experience from each situation.

What Is the Most Common Form of Cross Reporting?

Most communities have processes in place that allow for cross reporting in situations that involve child or animal abuse. Numerous studies have found a co-occurrence between domestic violence and harmful pet treatment.

When one report of either situation occurs, then several state legislatures have passed laws that require veterinarians, animal control departments, pediatricians, and child protection agencies to receive that information.

That process ensures an adequate public response to promote higher levels of safety throughout the community. Instead of engaging only one resource, a single report initiates all of them. 

Cross reporting can also be a policy or procedure that businesses follow to coordinate teams.

What Are the Benefits of Cross Reporting?

Cross reporting improves accuracy, timeliness, and productivity. It decreases duplication efforts through a team or community. Instead of having multiple departments collecting the same data to process, it allows everyone to be involved in the process from start to finish.

The process of cross reporting can also improve the decision-making within public safety systems. Instead of having animal control officers or child protection investigators rely on their experience alone, this supportive mechanism allows everyone to come together to share their relevant expertise.

When communities can identify problems early, then there is still time to act on them. That benefit also promotes public safety because it creates interventions that can stop domestic violence and animal abuse from occurring. Families get access to resources that can help them to start exploring possible alternatives.

Cross reporting takes a person-first approach to create a meaningful safety intervention. By ensuring that each department shares information with every other relevant team, we can keep everyone safer than they would be without this process in place. 

This is How You Write a Formal Expression of Opinion

Opinions are often discouraged when writing in formal ways. Whether you’re creating an essay for school, or you are a news reporter, you cannot use the informal process of stating your thoughts.

Informal writing allows you to say phrases like “I think” and “I believe” to express your opinion adequately. If there is an explicit thought that you want to share, then a phrase such as “in my view” or “in my opinion” are also suitable.

Here are some examples of what it looks like to informally express an opinion in writing.

  • I think that having a sense of humor is critical to a person’s success.
  • I believe that politics in the United States can be less polarizing.
  • In my opinion, the most influential legal change of the last century was to give women the right to vote.

When you transition to academic writing, then you must give your opinion in an implicit manner. That means the tone of the sentence must use an impersonal structure when sharing the thought.

Formal writing still allows you to share an opinion. You use phrases like “it is worth nothing” or “it is reasonable” or “it would seem that” to offer the information.

Here are some examples of what it looks like to formally express an opinion in writing.

  • It is worth noting that some politicians are well aware of the problem that a lack of healthcare coverage provides.
  • It is reasonable to assume that social and economic changes to inner-city neighborhoods could reduce crime.
  • It seems that having access to an education is an essential component of a person’s future success.

When you write formally, then adverbs are a critical component of how you can express your opinion. You would use that structure when it is necessary to qualify or evaluate the content that’s shared in your message.

Words like “interestingly,” “significantly,” or “surprisingly” are all commonly used in formal writing structures to clue in the reader that an opinion is being shared.

If you want to share the opinion of someone else, then you would use the phrase “according to” in formal writing. You would not use that expression to share your own opinion.
Some reporters like to use the term “in the view of this reporter.” Some editors would accept that statement, although not all of them will. You’ll need to speak with your editor about the expectations in that specific circumstance.