Political Journalism Infopool
The typical consumers of political journalism are voters that seek information to form their own opinions on candidates, incumbent politicians, and the issues that are most important to them. The audience seeks unbiased and accurate information in order to participate in local, state, and national matters.
As a journalist, you should meet the expectations of these consumers. This means putting factual material in the proper context to serve the audience’s need to understand what is happening in their world. This includes news occurring nearby, and news from all over the globe. In addition, most people expect news coverage that broadens their innate knowledge on a given subject, empowering them to make better decisions at election time.
Even the most self-assured news consumers have emotional needs that are expected to be met by accurate political reporting. Most resent “fake news” that relies on emotional manipulation techniques. However, they feel reassured by reporting that has been fact-checked and delivered in a calm, confident manner. Consistent, reliable information from a trusted source fills a deep need most news consumers have for consolation during unsure times.
A solid political journalist also involves their audience in a deeper societal context, since members of a community expect to be informed about the city, state, or country that they are citizens of, and this can reassure their internal sense of belonging. However, at the same time, consumers of political journalism expect reporters to respect their individual opinions and trust their audience to string together the facts as they are presented, leading to sound political decisions.
As a political journalist, you can create value for your audience in a variety of ways. Journalists must be sure that they are not knowingly introducing false information into any copy intended for broadcast or print. This includes any altered video, photo, or image.
All your quotations must be precise and completely accurate, and come from sources that will be immediately identified. The only exceptions to this are when a source insists upon anonymity as a condition to providing verifiable, reliable, and vital information, and there is no other way to obtain such information. In most cases, a you will provide the full name of the source, his or her age, title, and the name of his or her company, government department, organization, or hometown. This is often done to explain why he or she is credible. Any information taken from the internet is usually attributed to its original source and vetted for accuracy, as is any file, library or archive photo, report, email, or news release. Quotes are thoroughly checked to ensure that they are not taken out of context.
Sound political journalism also provides value to the end consumer by being fair. If the subject of an investigation is portrayed in a piece in a negative light, most political journalists make a concerted effort to obtain a response from that person or organization in question prior to publication. Value is also provided by supplying original content that is in no way plagiarized, free from any conflicts of interest, and fact-checked several times. If fact-checking reveals errors after a work is published, political reporters are obligated to print retractions quickly, fully, and without commentary.
Finally, you will provide value by furnishing transparency and engaging with their audiences. Now that social media and comment sections on political blogs are ensconced as a part of 21st century political media, newsrooms are encouraging political reporters to exchange ideas with news consumers.