Identifying the Three Kinds of Journalism: How and Why?

By Chloe Skaar on May 4, 2017

The society of journalists is facing an attack. Not from looming, nameless organizations or competitors — from consumers.

News consumers pledged their consumption methods to new technology and social media in recent decades, proving to the industry that what is easy is not always right. As a result, the Facebook article sharing, click bait and listicle realm of journalism have endangered and dominated most other mediums.

By Moses Mehraban,

Gone are the days of rising early to catch the morning newscast with your cup of coffee and cooking dinner while keeping one ear tuned into the TV or radio to absorb your community’s important events of the day.

In the wake of the internet and information age, we keep ourselves updated on today’s events from a 24-hour news cycle across varying mediums: print, internet, and broadcast. The successes of journalism depend on its mediums and, in return, each medium has its preferred method of journalism.

According to Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel’s “Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload,” there are three distinctive kinds of journalism: Journalism of Verification, Journalism of Assertion, and Journalism of Affirmation. Each serves a different focus in their reporting styles.

1. Journalism of Verification: Kovach and Rosenstiel define this method as “a traditional model that puts the highest value on accuracy and context.” I picture broadcast news in the Walter Cronkite and Edward Murrow era; a trustworthy and level-headed man smoking a pipe behind an oak desk delivering his latest knowledge of the day’s events without the company of a speculating panel. Traditionalists of the craft regard this method as the foundation of journalism. 

2. Journalism of Assertion: “A newer model that puts the highest value on immediacy and volume and in so doing tends to become a passive conduit of information,” per Kovach and Rosenstiel. Born from the age of information sharing, this method fathered the concept that Facebook and The Odyssey are sources of nonpartisan news. Reporters who implement this method are driven by a high volume of clicks and influencing discussion topics rather than the accuracy of their words. 

3. Journalism of Affirmation: Defined by Kovach and Rosenstiel as “a new political media that builds loyalty less on accuracy, completeness or verification than on affirming the beliefs of its audiences, and so tends to cherry-pick information that serves that purpose.” While this isn’t an entirely new method in the realm of political reporting, consumers of all political parties were left with a taste of PTSD from mainstream media after the 2016 general election.

Familiarizing yourself with each kind of journalism will assist immensely in making sense of today’s muddled news judgment. Know your sources and know their motives to know honest journalism.

Third year journalism student at Missouri State University. Focused on print and internet and reading every book I can get my hands on. Reporter and political beat reporter for The Standard.

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