Journalists have an important role in influencing the attitudes and values exhibited by members of the public. Particularly, the public does not have direct access to what is happening around them. As a result, the public relies on journalists to update them on the events taking place and topics making news in different parts of the world. Journalists must play their role in informing and educating the public. Without the reporters, it would be difficult to gain access to news and information about the things happening around the globe. Journalists recognize the important role they must play in ensuring that the public is well informed (Zelizer, 2004). The manner in which journalists report events and tackle different topics can influence the perception of the public. Research demonstrates that journalists contribute significantly in shaping the public debate. Journalists have the capacity to enforce certain values and attitudes or to disregard common perceptions among the members of the public. Undoubtedly, writers must embrace their responsibility in an ethical manner so that they inform the public appropriately. This paper will discuss the role of journalists in shaping public attitudes and values and explores the ways in which they fulfill this responsibility.
Journalists must undertake research to gain information before embarking on informing the public. It is necessary for journalists to exhibit an objective approach when handling different topics. Although these professionals have a role in informing the public, they should not be subjective. There are cases when the subjectivity of the media has influenced members of the public negatively. Responsible journalists should discuss issues from an objective point of view and respect the rights of individuals involved in different stories (Petley & Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2013). When the media become subjective, it spreads ideologies that are far from the truth. For this reason, there is a need for journalists to influence the views of the public based on the truth. An objective perspective allows members of the public to analyze the information they receive from the journalists.
Journalists working in different media houses have proven to be highly powerful in influencing the public, politically and socially. Currently, the political agenda in different countries depends on the views of journalists. Other aspects of health and acceptable beauty standards also rely on the manner in which journalists portray them. In the past, there have been cases of irresponsible behaviors by some journalists who have promoted unrealistic standards of defining beauty (Anderson & Ward, 2007). If journalists are to avoid the tendency of influencing the public negatively, they should give particular attention to the content they cover. It is imperative to analyze issues from varied perspectives so that members of the public can understand a topic appropriately. Journalists should stay away from selective coverage of news. There is evidence that the journalists give attention to certain issues and fail to highlight other topics that may be of great significance to the public (Gillmor, 2008). Journalists should recognize the importance of their role and seek to inform the public truthfully. Conducting extensive research will enable journalists to have a positive effect on the public.
- Anderson, P. J., & Ward, G. (2007). The future of journalism in the advanced democracies. Aldershot: Ashgate.
- Gillmor, D. (2008). We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
- Petley, J., & Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (2013). Media and public shaming: Drawing the boundaries of disclosure. London : I.B. Tauris.
- Zelizer, B. (2004). Taking journalism seriously: News and the academy. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.