“The media.” You know, that reportedly merciless, immoral body dedicated to corrupting youth, fueling conflict and wreaking other assorted havoc.
I’m exaggerating, clearly. But a real issue exists in those two little, often-paired words: They strip the journalistic world of its inherent, rich diversity and perpetuate the problems they purport to solve.
There is no single body of “the media.” There are only different publications and media outlets with different organizational structures, writing styles, analyses, experiences and above all, people.
As a member of “the media,” I would like to share a fun fact about my professional life: I appreciate feedback. Whether it’s an editor criticizing my verbose, overtly punny lede (I’m an ace at sports wordplay, in particular), or a professor stating simply, “I hate to say it, but this story needs major work,” I thrive on the promise that today, with the input of others, I’ll improve a little bit.
Calls for ‘morality,’ ‘unbiased’ reporting and other vague commentary on “the media” do little to change the culture and practice of journalism. If something in a story I wrote irks you, call me. Email me. Tweet at me. I’ll respond, and I will take your suggestion seriously. I’ll even favorite your tweet.
And I’ll gain newfound perspective that may be helpful in alerting another member of “the media” of a potential issue in the future. As the late Rick Tapscott always instructed his Drake University journalism students, “Get the name of the dog.” Specificity in writing is key, and I crave specificity in feedback, too.
It’s also important to ask, “Which media?” What publication plagiarized a story from another? Which news station violated a source’s privacy?
Again, specificity holds power in improving the culture and coverage of “the media.”
Finally, writing is a lifelong process, one at which I will continue to get better the more I practice it (Example: Did you catch that corny tennis pun earlier?). So, when I make a mistake, please tell me (it’s not creepy if you Google me, I swear). And please be specific about it.