Tracker Pixel for Entry

The Challenges of Modern Journalism

Last Word | September 23rd, 2023

By Faye Seidler

fayeseidler@gmail.com

On the first day of the month I ask people to thank a journalist they know or someone who contributes to papers in some meaningful way. When I grew up, my best friend's father was a journalist and there were times in my life I wanted to be one. And even back then, I was told, don’t get into this work, there is no pay.

Today we see the burn out in the fourth estate. We see papers shrinking, fewer reporters turning up, and tight deadlines for stories, all while competing with whatever conjecture and opinion exists online. It’s hard to get people invested in real local news when all sorts of flashy news-like entertainment with no integrity saturates our lives for free.

Healthy journalism is essential for a democracy to function and for people to be adequately informed about local and state issues.What some people fail to appreciate is just how powerful journalism really is. It often sets the stage for how the public will understand and frame the stories that happen. And no matter how objective or fact-driven a reporter attempts to be, there are always choices involved in the way we frame information, the words we choose to describe events, the quotes we pull for the story, or the stories we choose to cover.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of journalism we interact with is the product of less than a day of investigation and journalists are often forced to default to letting whoever is the most accessible shape the stories they write. This also means nuance within reporting becomes difficult and papers can be more prone to sloppiness, misinformation, or simply making mistakes.

I see this personally as I track stories related to suicide and LGBTQ+ topics for research purposes. It’s difficult for me to see stories rushed on these topics or about these individuals, because I know they’re not the product of journalists intentionally doing poorly, but because of the challenges we face today and that I described above. Intentional or not, there are still real consequences.

I spoke to Em Christie, a non-binary rock painting artist, who alleged they were frequently misgendered within a story about one of their events. They described how a standard correction request became an extended and stressful ordeal involving multiple messages, a meeting to address concerns, and subsequently the complete removal of the story against their will and the publication’s refusal to acknowledge or address a need for gender-inclusive language policy.

We often see any individual from a marginalized group who runs into a problem treated as inherently biased, overly sensitive, and more of a problem than the concerns they bring up. To someone who knows about reporting, bias and guidelines, it’s clear there is still discomfort, unfamiliarity, and confusion about best practices for LGBTQ+ populations that causes needless stress for story subjects, inaccurate reporting, or even hostility to corrections.

The Associated Press released guidelines on this topic with adetailed breakdown by Forbes about best practices for reporters, The goal of the guideline was to help increase factual, objective, and accurate reporting for gender-diverse populations. It came out in 2022, but when I asked local reporters and editors about their awareness of these guidelines, nobody knew about or had the time to really investigate them.

Time isn’t the only problem. How do journalists and editors field legitimate issues as described above from the mountain of noise and complaints they get on a daily basis from everyone with an opinion? How do they navigate covering things like LGBTQ+ issues accurately, when that can lose subscriptions or result in boycotts? During the Fox News defamation lawsuit we saw the struggle news networks have between reporting accurately and not losing money.

As struggles in journalism continue it becomes more difficult to accurately report not just on LGBTQ+ coverage, but to bring nuance and the appropriate context to stories around government, politics, healthcare, business, and everything else the public should know about. Good, healthy journalism connects communities, stops corruption, and is essential for a democracy. So, how do we get back?

The truth is most sectors are struggling, rural communities are disappearing, and we have workforce shortages everywhere. I don’t have exact answers as to how things get better, but I do think the way forward is remembering we’re all part of one community. And that thanking local media, subscribing to papers, taking the time to read stories, and writing your own letter to the editor is an investment in our community that pays off. It creates the capacity at a fundamental level to keep us all connected and informed, that is invaluable.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Professional Consultant: www.fayeseidlerconsulting.com

Community Uplift Program Manager: Harbor Health Initiative

Number:701-732-0228

Recently in:

Alicia Underlee Nelsonalicia@hpr1.com A midnight wedding ceremony at the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead on August 1, 2013 was more than a romantic gesture. Eighteen couples made history on that day by exchanging vows in the…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Our opinion: Has Fargo lost its cool?By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com On April 24, The Forum reported that Zandbroz Variety would be closing its doors after 33 years, and the announcement hit like a ton of books. Upon hearing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comIs It Possible to Move from a Tent on a Sidewalk to a Garage in the Sky? There have been wealthy people who added a car elevator to the mansion for their Bentleys so they could unload groceries…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.com Musicians in the Fargo-Moorhead area are often supportive of each other. They will attend each other’s shows, collaborate on projects, play as openers for each other, so on and so…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

By David L. Newellhistory@nd.gov If your Spidey senses are tingling, it may be because Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross is coming to the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The traveling exhibition, developed by the Bess…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.com I am an old man. I have been a politics junkie most of my life. I have been involved in many campaigns, but have not run for office myself. Each time someone has suggested I do that, I tell them…