Journalism and Media Skills Should be Taught to the Public


A newsstand in Philadelphia shows off print options for news sources. courtesy of claflenassociates

Landon Stokes, Features Editor

As a senior, I just had the pleasure of turning in my final capstone project, which I did mainly on the journalism aspect of my high school experience.

In it, I wrote an essay in which I explore the topic of social media and how new-age journalism connects to it, and not in a good way.

Two of the biggest problems journalism is running into in the age of social media are clickbait and confirmation bias. Because of the way social media operates, stories with shocking or otherwise interesting headlines stand out above others, which has resulted in a new genre of journalism known as “clickbait,” where stories are designed and written for the sole purpose of generating revenue via clicks and advertisements, not reporting news. Additionally, because social media is what a user makes of it, it’s naturally tailored to an individual’s beliefs and interests. Basically, social media is an echo chamber–it reflects what you want it to reflect. Take this, combine it with how easy it is to consume news on a mass scale, and you get confirmation bias–which is consuming media that agrees with your worldview or beliefs.

As if this wasn’t enough, the recent presidential election polarized the media even more. Politicians from Trump’s administration publicly voicing their disapproval or distrust of the media, and certain clickbait organizations taking advantage of the political climate to make some quick money. If it isn’t already clear, something has to be done to stop the flow of misinformation and bias. So how is the average American supposed to be able to recognize when an agenda is being pushed in the news they’re reading or if a media organization is credible or not? In my opinion, it’s an emphasis on journalism in education.

Before I could even begin writing for The Haystack, I had to take journalism bootcamp, where I learned about ethics in both high school and real-world journalism, as well as learn my rights as a student reporter. It also included how to research for stories and judge whether a source contains accurate, unbiased information in order to avoid painting a specific narrative when reporting the news. These are all great skills for a journalist to have, but it doesn’t have to just benefit students working on the school paper. Knowing how to research, cite sources, judge credibility, and think critically before forming opinions are skills that every single person could benefit from in the modern era.

With the ability to receive news at our fingertips at all hours of the day, it’s extremely important for the average consumer to be educated and think critically about the information they are consuming, lest they be taken advantage of by dishonest media or fed a false narrative. The best way to do this, is promote journalism in education.