Numerous misconceptions exist related to journalism in the modern era. Highly produced corporate television news broadcasts skew many to believe that is the way journalism is performed; reading from a teleprompter while making six or seven figures.

Also, the rise of social media has conflated the differences between a blogger, commentator, journalist, partisan actor, and purveyor of propaganda. Which bring forth the following questions.

“What exactly is a journalist?”

“How does their role differ from the other entities mentioned?”

Luckily, I have some experience in the vertical. Those of the Millennial and Generation Z age groups were fortunate enough to grow up in a world that was infused with the internet and gross expansion in digital technology.

The evolution of technology makes it possible for well-trained and well-meaning young journalists to carve out a role with news being disseminated from thousands of outlets every minute of the day.

However, even with the benefits of digital technology, several frustrations exist with the state of journalism and how some use the label when they do not display the ethics needed to properly inform the populace.

Journalist, Blogger, or Purveyor of Propaganda?

Despite the common usage of the term journalist by commentators and those who purposely choose to misinform the public, the differences between these entities could not be starker.

journalist taking a photo

Unfortunately, some consumers of information fall into echo chambers which keep them being able to differentiate between a factual statement, false claim, and an opinion. This is one of the more frustrating aspects for journalists who look to take advantage of the digital landscape.

Earlier this year I wrote about the problems associated with echo chambers.

One of the major problems with being within an echo chamber thought bubble is how it can alter individual’s relation with the truth.

If a matter of evidence is interested in a political conversation which challenges preconceived notions continually pressed within an ideological echo chamber it can lead to the psychological phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance.

Leon Festinger first developed the cognitive dissonance theory. The theory suggests we all have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and behavior in harmony and avoid dissonance.

This is known as the principle of cognitive consistency. The conflicting attitude, behavior, or thought process must change in order to relieve one of their dissonances.

typewriter for journalists

The bloggers and purveyors of propaganda who miscast themselves as journalists depend on cognitive dissonance and echo chambers in order to thrive.

These bad actors are motivated by influence and money while they tarnish the work of true journalists whose role is to report objective truth, regardless of who the information would upset. Frustratingly, a number of independent outlets refuse to label opinion pieces as such.

Larger outlets also often publish op-ed pieces laden with false claims, which misinform the public.

Bloggers and commentators who do not mislabel themselves as a journalist are not part of the problem.

However, more checks need to be in place to prevent false claims being labeled as opinion. Social media outlets who host those who purposely misinform the public should consider terminating their relationship with those entities.

How The Digital Era Helps Modern Journalists

With the age of social media and the public annoyance with corporate news outlets — there hasn’t been a better time for independent journalists.

Proper organization, quality work, and building a social media presence allows independent journalists like myself to cover stories large outlets decide to not cover.  

Social media does come with negatives, especially when numerous platforms decide to allow misinformation and propaganda to flow without much monitoring.

laptop and phone for remote work

Yet, if journalists stage about the toxic arguments between fringes they can cultivate a following of individuals who care about facts and are less interested in tribalism.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid trolling on social media as a journalist, especially when those in power label the profession as “enemy of the people”. That shouldn’t be a deterrent for having a presence, as your work will stand out for itself.

Trusting the process may become frustrating, especially when compensation isn’t always what it should be, but it is possible to make a career in journalism without compromising the ethics needed to be a journalist.

What’s It Like To Be A Modern Journalist

Unlike national broadcast journalists, I do not have a team of producers who compile most of the research, reach out for interviews, and receive tips for me. While my team is vastly smaller and works with a far less budget, I am able to verify all the information myself, which is vital to the accuracy of the information I publish.

Luckily, project management tools and the ability to develop my own schedule provides me the ability to investigate, research, and write without the stress of a traditional newsroom. Although, there are some cases when I had to work with editors who had no interest in journalism, were unprofessional, and only were interested in publishing clickbait.

digital era workplace

The best aspect of being able to work as a freelance journalist in the modern environment is that it has been extremely easy to stay true to the ethics of journalism. That doesn’t always seem to be the case with those working for outlets controlled by corporate or partisan entities.

Being able to cover stories that are important to the well-being of citizens is the most rewarding aspect of being a journalist.

Bonus Tip

As a journalist, there is a possibility of you handling multiple calls, so in order to make it more productive and noise-free you can get noise cancelling applications like Krisp. It will help remove noise during the call on both ends and ensure you can fulfill your journalist duties noise-free.

The ability to connect with sources, research, and write all from a digital workplace allows for young and innovative journalists to thrive in the active news environment.