10 Elements of Journalism- by Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel

In 2001, Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel published The Elements of Journalism. According to the American Press Institute, the 10 elements of Journalism discussed in Kovach and Rosenstiel’s novel include:

  1. Obligation to tell the TRUTH– Although the truth can often change, journalists must verify facts before putting them in an article for publication. It is also important for the journalist to limit their own bias about a story and to leave out one’s own opinions, i.e. let the reader form his or her own opinion.  According to the American Press Institute, “Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, subject to further investigation” (American Press Institute). 
  2. LOYALTY to citizens- As stated in the American Press Institute, “They [journalists]must strive to put the public interest – and the truth – above their own self-interest or assumptions” (American Press Institute). Journalists must also remember to represent all members of society. By ignoring certain groups, journalists lose credibility along with readers.  
  3. VERIFICATION of information- Journalists must verify information by “seeking out multiple witnesses, disclosing as much as possible about sources, or asking various sides for comment” in order to get the best truth to a story (American Press Institute).
  4. Practitioners’ INDEPENDENCE from subjects- “Journalists must avoid straying into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism” (American Press Institute). They cannot be corrupted by sources or intimidated by power. Journalists will lose credibility and reliability if they fail to do so.  
  5. MONITOR those is power- Journalists often take on the role of “watchdog” to those higher up in power to “guard against tyranny” (American Press Institute). They can also serve as a voice to those lower on the totem poll. It is important to report events of both success and failure. 
  6. Provide a forum for PUBLIC CRITICISM- There must be a forum for individuals to voice criticism as well as compromise. Since journalists and government form a bond, this public forum provides an outlet for the public to get in touch with the government (American Press Institute).
  7. Keep news INTERESTING & RELEVANT- Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. It should do more than gather an audience or catalogue the important. It must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need” (American Press Institute)
  8. Keep news COMPREHENSIVE & PROPORTIONAL- “Keeping news in proportion is a cornerstone of truthfulness. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping, or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map” (American Press Institute). Journalists must cover all areas of news as opposed to sticking with a few demographics to cover. 
  9. Maintain personal sense of ETHICS & RESPONSIBILITY- As stated in the American Institute, it is critical for journalists to have a voice of reason when obtaining the news and certain information. Having a strong moral compass will ultimately keep the journalist and the audience “safe”.
  10. CITIZENS have rights & responsibilities- Through social media, citizens can now act as journalists weather that be through commenting on an article, sharing said article over social media, or writing a blog post. It is important to make sure things that are posted are reliable and credible. It is vital for individuals to be media literate so their rights and responsibilities can be met accurately.  
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