What should journalists report on?

There’s this idea I had about journalism. A prevalent critique of today’s journalism is that it focuses a lot on clickbait. Whereas proper journalism would simply inform the reader of what is happening in their communities, cities, countries, the world, etc. as unbiasedly as possible.

I don’t know what the formal rules for journalism are and what is taught in school. There are two things I think about when I think about what probably makes a good journalistic medium such as a news site, Eisenhower box and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Let’s think about a local newspaper. I think that local newspapers should seek to inform its readers on what’s important in the community. The key is what is important isn’t what will draw the most attention. What is important to a local community may be job opportunities, laws being proposed, the latest assessment of the local schools. What may attract eyeballs is the latest robbery. What is more important than the latest robbery is if crime is decreasing or increasing and what are ways the community can improve the situation.

That actually touches on the Eisenhower box concept. The Eisenhower box also known as the Eisenhower Matrix is named after the U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower who was an accomplished and effective military commander before becoming president also known for managing his time well. He once stated that “The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Davidjcmorris, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Eisenhower box breaks down tasks into four categories: 1) urgent and important, 2) not urgent but important, 3) not urgent and not important, and 4) urgent, but not important. In relation to journalism, the urgent stories and the important stories should be prioritized.

What is important? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a concept created by Abraham Maslow that classifies and ranks what is important to humans. At the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy or pyramid is “psychological needs” which are things such as food, water, and clothing. At the top of the hierarchy is “self-actualization” or the desire to achieve one’s full potential.

J. Finkelstein, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

A news outlet story priority might not directly reflect this hierarchy, but it would certainly direct it.

Featured Image: C.A.D.Schjelderup, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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