When Kate Parry of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune spoke at the opening of the ACP Summer Journalism Workshop at the University of Minneapolis, she spoke of the seduction of journalism and how addictive journalism is. I agree.
But more importantly, Parry talked about how journalism is the voice of those whose voice is missing in society. Ordinary journalism, she said, leaves out great swaths of society. “We have an obligation to the voiceless people in our society.”
And she challenged reporters to ask whose voice is missing every time they generate story ideas, every time they critique the paper, and every time they look at the Web site. On a college campus, she challenged college journalists to ask “who is invisible in your campus conversation.” For example, on our campus, we know we fail to cover students in the College of Engineering and, notably, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences consistently. They are invisible in our publications on a regular basis.
She also challenged every reporter and photographer to get out of the office and to find out what the readers view as their most important problem, what issues they want to read more about. Just get out and ask: What’s important to you?
After all, isn’t that what journalism — and reporting — is supposed to be? What is important to readers? Let’s all make it our challenge this year to find out and then to report on those topics instead of the routine and the same stuff we report on every year.