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Ask Michael

Please post your questions for this week in the comments section below.

Thank you for all your questions and comments, I have enjoyed reading them.

Fleur Perry asks: I have a story, with multiple pieces of evidence, that affects several hundred thousand people. I do not feel I have the experience to break the story. Where should I turn to?

Hello Fleur, if this is as important a story as this, and you are not comfortable with or do not have access to adequate legal advice to publish in an online form, your best course of action would be to contact a reputable news outlet. More often than in the past, journalist’s email addresses will be available, and you can contact the one you think would be best placed to examine your story idea. A one paragraph summary to them of what evidence you have and where you feel this leads would be the best way to make initial contact. Of course, be mindful that the journalist’s job is to be skeptical, and that applies as much to the evidence behind a great story as it does to those in power. I wish you very good luck with your story, though.

Noemen Byrne asks: This week has been very interesting and informative. I like the idea of investigative journalism would like to know if there is still a place in the future for written journalism or will it be mainly digital? Thank you

Camilla Thomas Hi Michael, in your opinion what will the landscape of journalism look like in 5-10 years? Will there ever come a time when printed journalism becomes extinct? I hope not.

Hello Noemen and Camilla, Journalism in the future will certainly be more directed towards tablet-type reading than the folding newspaper. The issue that will determine the shape of the industry is how that is to be paid for - in other words, how to get either consumers or advertisers to give enough money to make the news business financially viable. I also hope that the printed page remains, but we have to concede its limits in terms of timeliness of content and environmental impact.

Philip Brain asks: Hi Michael, Can you give any encouragement to people, like me, who are complete, died in the wool, skeptics of journalists and journalism? I do believe that yes; there are journalists with integrity and honesty but, they are few and far between. It can be incredibly difficult to figure out just what is really the truth. The trends in mainstream media today are frightening in that fewer and fewer people are choosing of what, and how, to inform the general public. This is especially true of the so-called embedded journalists which are actually paid propagandist selling someone else agenda, often a government selling war. Whether you like John Pilger or not, this is quite an interesting discussion of the media in general

Hi Philip, all those with an interest in journalism should be students of John Pilger, irrespective of whether they agree with all he has to say. I condone your critical attitude, but I have to say I don’t agree that journalists with integrity and honesty are in the minority. Almost all of the journalists I have had the pleasure of dealing with have been committed and ethical professionals. It is unfortunately true that the worst examples of journalism can rise high in public prominence, and we should never be fearful of pointing this out where it occurs. But in surveying the modern newsroom, we well as in dealing with the next generation of journalists, I also see grounds for optimism. We need to fund them to do their job though, and not lean on them to please advertisers and pander to soft news agendas.

Regarding the poll from week 5, ‘The Blackout - a vote for suitable questions’ thank you to everyone who voted, the results make encouraging reading for advocates of the rational public sphere!

The most popular and third most popular questions concern the facts: what the minister knew, their reasons for taking the decision they did, what threat remains?

The second most popular concerns the journalist’s responsibility to provide the public with useful information: what should the rest of us do now?

The least popular question concerns the emotional response of the minister; something that, it may be argued, has the least effect on the listening audience.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Journalism

University of Strathclyde