Emotive journalism allows some stories to be told more effectively, Combs implied, because it engages the reader or viewer’s sense of empathy and allows the outsider to better understand the subject’s viewpoint.
“We’re human, first of all. You don’t have to be of the same background as that person to feel what that person is feeling,” she explained. “And that’s important.”
Telling the truth in a post-truth culture
That doesn’t mean 21st Century journalists no longer have ethical standards to uphold.
“It’s still my job, as a journalist and a storyteller, to make sure I’m telling [a story] in a truthful light, that I am fact-checking,” Semancik acknowledged.
“It’s important that people know that as journalists, we’ve been taught a lot about ethics, about what to do and what not to do,” Combs rejoined. “People think that everyone has an agenda,” she said, with a hint of exasperation. “Sometimes we just want to tell the truth.”
Truth, Combs believes, has never been localized to a single story. It’s usually found, unspoken, between the lines, or between various takes on a subject. No one, she cautioned, should take one reporter’s story, or one organization’s editorial brand, as gospel.
“Find reputable journalists. Look at different story angles, from different people, and you can tell what the truth is,” she said.
Collaboratively training journalists to cover the new, digital beat.
Semancik and Combs were advised on their projects by UC Department of Journalism Educator Associate Professors Bob Jonason and Sean Hughes, respectively.
Hughes’s primary expertise lies in photojournalism. He is also well-regarded for his work on documentary films, Blevins said.
Jonason’s specialties are editing and new media; he often goes the extra mile for students by reaching out to media organizations to place their work in syndication, Blevins noted.
“They’ve had an impact on their students in ways that maybe they didn’t even realize,” Blevins said.