Andrea Wenzel is a journalism professor at Temple University, and she has a background working in public radio. She spoke to our class on Tuesday about various initiatives she has been involved in to encourage engaged journalism practices. I thought it was interesting to learn not only are journalists in U.S. cities like Chicago working to incorporate elements of solutions and engaged journalism into their work, but so are media abroad in countries like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The fact that these journalism practices have been well received across cultures and countries speaks to some of the inherent communicative strengths of engaged journalism.
I think it was also insightful to hear Andrea articulate some of the tensions that exist between journalists and readers. I related specifically to her note about journalists being frustrated with being sent PR pieces and community members in turn being frustrated that journalists don’t write about the events/people/initiatives they tell reporters about. From interning at a local newspaper, I experienced this tension a lot, as we were forwarded PR releases all the time.
From what I gathered from Andrea’s talk, readers have nuanced expectations of media organizations — they don’t want to read bad news, but they don’t want reporters to sweep issues under the rug either. Yet I find this dichotomy frustrating, because no matter what reporters cover, someone is unhappy. This is a point Andrea addressed as well. Unfortunately, it seems I will just have to get used to this. But I appreciated her frankness about these tensions.