The New Journalism

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I love great journalism and have been a subscriber of the Economist since 2010, when I started studying at the LSE. Each week I listen to the audio version of The world this week, the Leaders, and the Britain, International, and Business sections. I also read the daily WONKHE, a higher education policy website and newsletter that keeps me somewhat informed about the sector where I work.

However, I have recently started to move away from other forms of legacy news and find new media much more informative with high-quality, more in-depth, and longer-form content. These include mini-documentaries from Economics ExplainedColdFusion, and Johnny Harris and long-form interviews from Modern WisdomTriggernometry, and of course, Joe Rogan

Johnny Harris, formally of Vox, produces beautifully edited and well-written content. He has 810,000 subscribers to his Youtube channel and regularly gets over a million views on his videos. In a recent video, he provides seven lessons he has learnt over the last seven years of journalism: 

  1. Objectivity is a myth – every piece of news is produced by a human who has chosen what to include, what to leave out, and how to frame it. Aim to be fair and generous to the other side of the argument and present the best version of the viewpoint. Be clear and balanced about the facts.
  2. A lot of journalists write for their peers, not their audience – It can be challenging for people to understand the intricate parts of the news unless you already understand the area. The audience tends to feel left out. Use clear, simple language and avoid jargon.
  3. Journalism has a lot of very old customs/traditions – be a character (use I) and tell the story to the audience include facts, data, people, and help inform the reader. Be a part of the store, and make it beautiful with the imagery and music.
  4. Journalism school isn’t always the best way to go – schools spend too much time on theory, tradition, history, and critique of the old way of doing things. They don’t leave space for students to experiment with the new direct to consumer journalism. Just make content and aim to get better at it by learning in the trenches.
  5. Journalism is economic in its very nature – journalism is a business through subscriptions, donations, or ads, which comes with incentives. Private media can get out of control with the motivation to chase volume and clicks, which does not always lead to great journalism. If you want great journalism, pay for it and be the customer, not the product.
  6. Good writing is rare and beautiful – good journalism is good writing; it should be great storytelling, clear, concise and simple in its wording. Develop your writing to develop the quality of your journalism.
  7. Good journalism is important – good journalism is hard to produce but makes a positive impact. It is precise with the facts and honest about its biases to allow the reader to scrutinise it.

Here is Johnny’s affiliate link to his suggested book for improving your writing, The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker. You can subscribe to The Economist via their website. The writing course I am working through to improve my content is Ninja Writing: the Four levels of Writing mastery by Shani Raja, a former writer and editor for the Economist. Shani also has a free course on Ubemy called Secret sauce of great writing.

Let me know your recommendations for great journalism on Twitter @samueljtanner.

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