Fighting for the future of journalism

Mi-ai Parrish, Arizona Republic publisher and editorial board member, talks with students and faculty members during Earth Week.

Mi-ai Parrish, Arizona Republic publisher and editorial board member, talks with students and faculty members during Earth Week.

Photo by Miguel Saucedo

Photo by Miguel Saucedo

Mi-ai Parrish, Arizona Republic publisher and editorial board member, talks with students and faculty members during Earth Week.

Austin Bell, Staff Writer

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During the spring semester at Paradise Valley Community College, in Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona Republic (AZ Republic), publisher and editorial board member Mi-Ai Parrish gave a talk to reflect on the 2016 presidential election and the state of journalism.
One of the first things Mi-Ai Parrish described in her speech is the decision of the AZ Republic to endorse a presidential candidate. Parrish, along with the editorial board, had a hard decision to make. She described that the entire board was in a situation of being stuck. Finally, the editorial board made the decision to endorse Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate.

This turned out to be groundbreaking for two reasons; the AZ Republic is a paper grounded on Republican principles, and this is the first time the paper has endorsed a Democrat in its 120 year history. While she was prepared for threats both on a company and personal level, as well as losing business, she was still taken aback by the anger and vitriol against the AZ Republic.
Parrish cited her decision based off of her own guiding values and principles such as believing in free speech, a right to the free press as well as an informed community. Parrish, when describing her core values, quoted her own mother. She stated, “Never take for granted with what you have been blessed.”

Parrish then went on to discuss the challenges of reporting today, such as handling President Donald Trump’s tweets as well as combating fake news. The AZ Republic continuously works with technological companies, like Facebook, to help filter fake news from the real stories on the Internet.
Many media executives and journalists in leadership roles could probably comment on how this is the most exciting and potentially dangerous time. There are currently countless amounts of tools; the Internet and social media are the biggest. While this helps news corporations and individual journalists reach a larger audience, it has also brought upon the rise of false minimized reporting. To tackle these problems, journalists are trying to come up with creative solutions to these current problems.

Yellow Journalism and False Journalism

Parrish presented the following ideas in her talk as well. The same technology that is used to reach more people, such as social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, are also being used to disseminate false or inaccurate information. A disturbing trend that is happening is articles, videos and even headlines that are created to look authentic when compared to media and information companies, like the New York Times or the Washington Post. The migration of  news to the online world is similar to the rise of yellow journalism during the 1890’s. During that time the news industry created a code of ethics that helped return fact-finding journalism to the forefront of the industry.

The same way the code of ethics was instituted in the early 1900s, today there might be a need for an updated code to combat fake news syndrome. Blogger and City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism professor, Jeff Jarvis, in a blogpost, listed a myriad of suggestions for creating a more truthful and civil discussion online. Ideas such as making it easier for users to report fake news, hate speech, harassment and bots, as well as creating a system for media to send metadata about their fact-checking, debunking, confirmation and reporting on stories and memes to the platforms.

Future of Journalism

The advent of the Internet and social media has led the way for an open-journalism platform to begin spreading. Anyone with the tools necessary could become a journalist, but the problems lie in the training or respect for the ethical standards of journalism. To compete with this open-journalism platform, news organizations are ripping a page out of open-journalism’s playbook. In a Washington Post article, reporter Chris Cillizza stated the intentions of Dean Baquet and his plans to overhaul the New York Times. Baquet stated in an open memo, “Reporters will cover their subjects or regions without concern for where their stories land in the print paper, thus allowing them to take on subjects that do not need to be neatly categorized. Their editors, free from worrying about filling specific print pages, can say yes to a much wider range of story ideas that do not fit the old print architecture. And all this freedom of form and subject will make the print paper more compelling.”

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Fighting for the future of journalism