Cal Poly alumni and guests gave advice on the journalism industry during the bi-annual Jim Hayes Symposium on Oct 12.
One guest speaker said journalists should have better news judgment, while another said consumers need to pay for the news they receive.
A third believed the homogenous nature of journalists naturally hindered coverage of communities and that journalists should instead come from different places, with distinct backgrounds and diverse identities.
Among the panelists in the Advanced Technologies Laboratory (building 7) was Microsoft Research economist David Rothschild, who said the news industry needs to do better.
“During the lead up to the 2016 election, if you took a look at the coverage, what you see, if you break it down, is mainly coverage of horse-race and scandal,” Rothschild said.
For Director of Reveal Investigative Fellowships Martin Reynolds, the future of journalism may not rest in the traditional idea of objectivity.
“Consumers know we have an opinion and I think us not sharing our opinion, to a certain extent, erodes our credibility,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said journalists’ beliefs can be shared, as long as their views and the views of consumers are both respected and the journalist is fair and balanced in their reporting.
Vox Editor-in-Chief Lauren Williams said respecting differing opinions should be a goal of news organizations and that journalists should explain the context behind arguments so consumers can understand each other.
“What we’re actually trying to do is make readers and listeners stop and step back and think about what’s really happening, and break through the screaming and shouting to get to the actual context,” Williams said.
Context recently played a large role in an analysis of the Los Angeles Times, where a newly formed union discovered that the company annually paid non-white women an average of $70 thousand and white men an average of $101 thousand.
“I have value, I speak Spanish, I am a person of color, I am a woman, I bring a different perspective, and I deserve to be paid as much as my white male counterpart,” Los Angeles Times reporter and journalism alumna Cindy Carcamo said at the symposium.
Different perspectives are crucial, Reynolds said, because without diversity, there is no trust, and without trust, there is no credibility.
Supporting a diverse staff is difficult with recent losses in revenue, which Rothschild, Reynolds and J-Lab Executive Director Jan Schaffer said should be made up for with consumer support.
“We don’t like to ask people for money, but the truth of the matter is, that’s what has to be done,” Schaffer said.
The full panel is available online at the Cal Poly Journalism Department’s website.