Habits of Mind
Unit 1
 
WHAT DISTINGUISHES A GOOD JOURNALIST?
 

Examples

Exercises

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A JOURNALIST?

 

Journalists take a very particular approach to information:  They bring the qualities of initiative, curiosity and persistence to finding out the most accurate and meaningful information they can for their audiences.  Below are some especially good descriptions of those qualities.

 

 

The American Press Association lists a core set of principles that help to define good journalism. These include that journalism's "first obligation is to the truth," "its first loyalty is to citizens," and "its essence is a discipline of verification."

 

 

The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is a standard bearer for the profession. You can click on any part of the code to get additional, related information and resources.

 

 

The American Press Institute's Journalism Essentials includes topics such as the purpose of journalism, bias and objectivity, and elements of an interesting, useful story.

 

 

What is journalism for? When the Columbia Journalism Review asked journalists and scholars this question, editors received a range of replies from more than 35 people.

 

 

Qualities of a good journalist 

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Initiative

 

Alex Blumberg explains how he and the rest of NPR's Planet Money team decided to make a T-shirt. The reporters saw a T-shirt as "this great lens for looking at the global economy," because so many people in so many countries are involved in the process, he says.

Curiosity

 

Christina Samuels models curiosity as she talks about reporting on education. "First, you keep your eyes open," she says. Samuels also gives some good advice on questioning sources. 

Persistence

 

NPR's Ari Shapiro hopped on a bicycle to make sure he'd be able to make a Capitol Hill interview on time. "I think everybody who has worked at NPR has a story like that," he says.

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Each of the reporters below describes characteristics of journalists who have a fire in the belly—a sense of passion and engagement about their work.