What Does “Thinking like a Journalist” Mean?

Elinore Harris 

The Charter News 


News reporters and other people of similar occupations often use the phrase “Thinking like a journalist,” but people outside this line of occupation might not know exactly what this means. Thinking like a journalist has many different aspects to it: being honest, unbiased, and engaging.

The honesty part is pretty simple. When reporting news, one must be honest about sources, ideas, and the people one is writing about. This means no plagiarizing, no lying about people, and making sure that when one paraphrase, one doesn’t distort quotes. A journalist must consider the audience and how they will take everything said or written. Taking that into account, how does one best communicate to that particular audience what one wants them to know? The things that get published have a powerful influence on the readers.

Another significant part of journalism is being unbiased. This means being free from all resentment and favoritism in news writing. There are exceptions to this rule, for instance, if one is writing an editorial or a persuasive report. But most of the time, it is essential that journalists be as unbiased as attainable. Biased journalism articles may happen more often than the journalist is even aware of. For instance, a journalist might be unintentionally less warm toward old people vs. young people. Other common biases are on the basis of religion, race, gender, political view, weight, and disability. An expert journalist is actively cognizant of these biases and is always seeking to work past them. 

One of the other important traits of a good journalist is interesting people with their writing. Stories that are written by skilled journalists hook one at the beginning and attempt to keep readers intrigued until the last word. The simplest way to do this is to make sure the journalist knows what their audience is interested in and what keeps them engrossed in something that they’re reading. If the audience is mostly children, don’t bore them with stories about politics and taxes. Talk about a new TV show that they are all enthusiastic about. Investigate the behavior of household pets and share tests that the children may try at home on their pets. If the audience is mostly lawyers and politicians, talk about various lawsuits that have happened lately, or ones that are about to occur. It all depends on who’s reading.

Good journalists aim to be honest, unbiased, and keep their audience interested. However, doing so takes practice, and not every story will be completely truthful and unbiased. The role of a journalist must be taken very seriously. Overall, though, that is what good journalists strive for.