There are many ways to spread information, and news is not always straight-up and objective like the public tends to thinks it is. People should know what they’re talking about with regard to media before they “go off half-cocked” when referencing journalism. They should, at the very least, know some basics terms:
Muckraking Journalism is the work of a journalist, author, or filmmaker who investigates and exposes societal issues such as political corruption, corporate crime, child labor, conditions in slums and prisons, unsanitary conditions in food processing plants, fraudulent claims by manufacturers of patent medicines, etc.
Watchdog Journalism provides reasonably balanced and accurate information to the public about important public policy issues, which serves as a check against powerful interests. This approach and muckraking stand in sharp contrast to Lapdog Journalism.
Lapdog Journalism occurs when a journalist’s work makes her appear to be unbiased, when in actuality she is acting as a completely uncritical mouthpiece for a political party, corporation, or other vested interest. Junkyard Dog Journalism is the opposite of lapdog journalism.
Gadfly Journalism is the work of one who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempts to stimulate innovation by proving to be an irritant.
Undercover Journalism is a form in which a reporter tries to infiltrate a community by posing as someone friendly to that community.
Investigative Journalism is the type in which reporters thoroughly investigate a topic of interest, often related to scandals, government corruption, or white collar crime. Whereas a typical daily or weekly news reporter writes items concerning immediately available news, an investigative journalist might spend months or years on a particular report. Newspapers and wire services provide most investigative pieces, although some are done by television stations.
Now, I didn’t even get into broadcast journalism, television reporting, and all the variants that are associated with them. The point is that people need to step back and try to get an understanding of a subject, context, and reality before weighing in as an “expert,” or believing every piece of “news” they read in print or hear on television, radio, or the internet.
Keep these terms in mind next month as I wrap up this three part series.