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Are journalists still seen as a source of knowledge and wisdom?

Newsroom image by Vin Crosbie released under Creative CommonsAn oracle is "somebody or something considered to be a source of knowledge, wisdom, or prophecy".

In the early days of journalism, newspapers were the main source of information, and journalists were generally accepted as the source of "knowledge" and "wisdom". 

People relied on them for direction and to explain complex issues. But is this still true today?

Image courtesy of Vin Crosbie and released under Creative Commons.

The oracle approach

Translating the ORACLE mnemonics to the process of reporting (see image below), one sees how a journalist can be more proactive in taking the initiative to act or break a story compared to routinely reacting to events or doing follow-ups.

Oracle image by Eric Loo

Proactive journalists continually think and construct their narratives guided by the ORACLE mnemonics as follows:

Observe

Observe, watch and listen to make sense of events, abstract issues and people in their environments. Here lies the capacity of journalists to perceive and see what others usually overlook. People see events. Journalists see stories and issues behind the events.

Reflect

Reflect on and record what you have observed, reconcile the differences from what you have seen, heard or sensed with what you assumed. Listen to your own counsel and conscience. Then, challenge conventional wisdom.

Amplify

Amplify and analyse the relevant and significant aspects of the events, issues and people involved to agitate for change.

Contextualise

Contextualise your reflection and analysis of the above to clarify and connect with your readers. Include different perspectives and explanations. See the bigger picture, see the trees AND the forest.

Learn

Learn more about what you have uncovered and elucidate the true from false, right from wrong. Report and write beyond one in-depth story.

Educate

Educate, enlighten, and enable your readers to find out more about issues and people you have written about.  

In reality, however, you are limited in what you can do to influence public policies. Journalists and readers work together in uncovering the truth and seeking possible solutions to community problems.

Please feel free to add any comments in the box below.

Dr Eric LooDr Eric Loo has worked as a financial journalist, features editor, production editor, and media educator in Malaysia and Australia. Eric left Malaysia for Australia in 1986 to work as a journalist. He currently lectures in journalism at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He also writes a column for a Malaysiakini and has conducted training workshops in advanced reporting, development journalism and newspaper design in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, and Laos. He is editor of a refereed journal Asia Pacific Media Educator published by SAGE Publications (New Delhi), and has co-edited books in international journalism and cross-cultural communication. You can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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