Five resolutions for journalists in 2012

At the start of last year, I wrote a piece for the Toronto Star’s intern blog with some resolutions for journalists.

The resolutions were:

  • Journalists should be wary of what they tweet;
  • One should always spell check before clicking “publish;”
  • One should not just social media source, but also talk to people in the “real” world;
  • One should have a life outside of work;
  • Journalists should join the conversation, not just observe.

I thought it would be fun to update the list with resolutions for 2012. I took to social media asking for suggestions, so here they are my five resolutions for journalists in 2012.

1. I will double check my facts before clicking publish

Hey, errors happen it’s a fact of life. Sometimes they’re funny, often times they’re not. As the media world evolves into a continuous deadline, it’s important now more than ever to make sure the information we are posting — in news stories, on Twitter or in live blogs — is as accurate as it can be. Take the time to fact check and due diligence. You owe it to yourself — and your readers.

2. I will embrace new technology

It would be great to say new technology is done, but that’s likely very far from the truth. New social media networks, like Path, continue to crop up while old social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, continue to make changes to stay current and maintain their users.

It’s important not to get too comfortable with the tools we use or to get too stuck in our ways. If the last 10 years has taught us anything it’s that new technologies and tools are always cropping up. If we get too stuck in our ways, then we’ll run the risk of going the way of newspapers or the music industry and dying a slow death.

3. I will not sit at my desk for my entire shift

This resolution comes from Kate Schwass-Bueckert, a wire editor with QMI Agency in Toronto. She writes:

This past year, I finally recognized my eyesight was not what it used to be. I had to get glasses. And I sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day — getting up and stretching while I’m heating up my lunch or just taking a quick walk to get a coffee is going to be new goals — it will hopefully keep me healthier and keep my butt from becoming too large and flat!

4. Putting more honesty into your work

Also the result of crowdsourcing, this resolution comes from Alex Fox, who is not a journalist, but works in the communications industry. She writes:

As I’m moving forward as a communications person in the international development industry, I’m much more conscious of the factors that influence the messages we see depicting poverty and injustice.

The most common image you’ll see of Africa and development is one of poverty and despair (think World Vision and Children’s Christian Fund), and in contrast to this, a lot of organizations are shifting to more positive imagery (Like EWB and Oxfam).

After spending a summer in Ghana, I’ve really learned that neither of these one-snapshot representations are truthful, as the reality is much more complex, lively and ever-changing.

I’m currently working on a campaign called ‘The Complexity Project” that promotes Africa and development in a way that embraces the complexity of the situation and problems in all its material — rather than focusing on one representation or scenario.

When working on all the branding, written content and material, I keep in check by asking myself “Is this truthful? Is this message guided by what the public wants to see, or will get them more engaged? Does this representation of (for example) my friend Emmanuel from Northern Ghana show him and his reality objectively and truthfully?”

I think this is transferrable to all communications and journalistic endeavours: Is the message or story that is being communicated show all sides and complexities of the situation? Is it geared toward a specific audience? Is it tilted a certain way for an influential audience (for example advertisers in a newspaper)? I truly appreciate news stories that show all perspectives and realities of situations and stories, and I am trying to do so in my work representing Africa, development and injustice in the world moving forward, in 2012 and longer.

5. Explore the open source world

Another resolution from Schwass-Bueckert:

 I know there’s a whole world of information out there, willingly being shared, and I am not as knowledgeable as I should be about it. I want to learn more about it, and how I can tap into it. I’m not even sure if calling it “open source websites” is the right name for it, but I definitely want to: a) figure out what to call it; and b) figure out how to use it in 2012.

What are your journalism resolutions for 2012? Please share them in the comments.