Odd Numbers Reign Supreme

Newton had three laws of motion. Kepler had five laws of planetary movement, odd number lists tend to stand the test of time (plus those 10 commandments)…

What is journalism?

Early this August, Professor Danna Walker, defined and outlined the “Seven Laws of Journalism“. These laws are great ideas, however their importance may be slightly overplayed.

Is Journalism Dead? Dr. Walker would have you believe that the newsmedia has held a funeral for itself in the last decade. “The news is shedding its “clunker” status and becoming sleek and efficient.” I believe this description is more effectively describes journalism classes, and not the actual discipline itself. Journalism literally flipped itself on its head in the last 12 years. From a twice a day paper, to twice daily news on cable, to 24 hour cable, to twitter; the news has become a much more constant, and instantly gratifying part of life. Until recently most communications courses have been about “the old ways”. Journalism school enrollment rate were down. But luckily there was a quick shift that has given a pulse back to it. Journalism is like the NHL post-lockout, it is newer, more exciting, and there is much more exposure (and, oh yeah, the best of it happens in DC), but it is still the same fundamental thing .

Dr. Walker’s “laws” also highlight  getting paid, getting outside to be part of what you write about, and not procrastinating. These three laws are great bits of common sense, which would make them a formula in mathematics and science.

The next lie defines the journalist as “a story factory” that must pump out readable, interesting material. This analogy is great. In the book Dr. Walker uses, Scott Byers, a small town sportswriter, writes over 100 stories on a weekly basis. The most successful journalists may not write that many stories a year, however starting out everyone has to do the grunt-work.

Finally the professor makes it “law” to pay homage to democracy, and technology. She warns against turning your back on either situation. This is why journalism is an attractive field. You get to be a cutting edge patriot, and that is why America loves the news (Even Glenn Beck still watches the “fringe media”, although he disagrees with it).

The list is a great way to look at the new-dynamic journalism that is on the rise. The time of journalism heroes is definitely over, but this new profession may bring something even better to the homes of America.

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The big ideas that stick out from the reading are how different writing for the three areas covered were. Politicians lie is a great tip. All three do have a few similarities too, they all require good research, a working knowledge of the subject, and basic social skill to write a good story.

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