Learning About Journalism

One of my current projects is PASSWatch. Right now it’s mostly aggregation which I think has value, but I hope to do more over time including news and maybe opinions. I get by on writing (and hope to get better at it), but I don’t know much about journalism. When I want to learn something new I want something focused and curated, so I’ve been reading The Elements of Journalism, Revised and Updated 3rd Edition: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. Its been interesting to see that some ideas like the wall between advertising and news doesn’t work out to be as practical as it sounds, and I’m taken with the idea of skeptical editing where someone goes through a piece line by line to validate it. The book reinforces for me how confusing the journalistic landscape. I’m not yet comfortable with the idea of being a journalist (which I think implies more training that I have or will probably get), but it does feel like this is learning that will help me in other ways.

I try to always figure out what is “done” for learning and that’s hard when you’re just getting started on a topic. Here’s what I have in mind so far:

  • I need to better understand how to decide what “news” really is
  • How (or if) to mix factual content with opinions
  • How to build a brand that is considered to be fair and trustworthy

Looking at those, they feel superficial. Early days and we shall see.

I have the rare luxury of not needing to figure out the commercial side of things which I think greatly simplifies what I need to learn. I’ll finish this book in a week or two, then go through the recommended reading from it to see if I can discover something else that seems like a good investment of time. I did a quick search for free stuff (below) but I’ll go through those once the reading is done. I think I’d enjoy taking a class online if I can find one that fits my needs.

If you have a recommendation for reading please comment, email, or send to me on Twitter at @sqlandy.