Some say that journalism students should simply be taught how to ‘do’ journalism rather than spending time analysing or reflecting on it. On Saturday Sky’s Kay Burley showed why it’s not that simple – when she berated someone demonstrating in favour of electoral reform (skip to around 2 mins in):[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELJh2bTK1ew%5D
This, and the copious other clips from a career history of walking a fine line (many say crossing it), are a goldmine for lecturers and journalism students – particularly when it comes to discussing broadcast journalism technique, ethics, and regulation.
It helps students to look at their own journalistic practice and ask: in trying to please my bosses or meet an idea of what makes ‘good television’, am I crossing a line? How do the likes of Jeremy Paxman manage to dig behind a story without losing impartiality, or becoming the story themselves (do they manage it?) What, indeed, is the purpose of journalism, and how does that carry through into my practice?
Journalism is easy. You don’t need to study it for 3 years to do it. You don’t need a piece of paper to practise it.
But professional journalism is also the exercise of power – “Power without responsibility,” as the quote has it (which continues: “the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”). We expect to scrutinise politicians and hold them to certain ethical standards yet cry foul when the same scrutiny is applied to us. Studying journalism – while doing it – should be about accepting that responsibility and thinking about what it entails. And then doing it better.
So: Kay Burley. Discuss.