Journalism got its “modern” world with the Town Crier. This person would stand in the town square and report the events of the day or announcements that had to be made. There was not a whole lot of room for details. At times, the Town Crier would read proclamations from the ruling authority. Later, when newspapers began to be printed, but were in short supply, the Crier might read the headlines and maybe any story that related to his village or town. The Town Crier did not gather all the news, but he served as an early editor, deciding what was to be announced and what was of little interest.
With that background, journalism got its birth and matured into adulthood through the print media. As the population grew and as printing processes advanced, the journalist, instead of being an editor, typesetter, delivery person and reporter, could concentrate on just reporting the news.
The print media is still the mainstay of journalism today. The words are written, but the inflection, the raised eyebrow of the anchor, the shrug of the shoulders or the look of shock from the television reporter is not to be seen. Only the written words are available, and it is up to the reader to determine how the words are read—with anger, pleasure, indifference or interest. Granted, the reporter can write in a manner that might influence the reader and reporters are forever being accused of “writing between the lines” as if he was trying to deliver a secret message.
While a newspaper has a finite amount of space available each day, which is determined by the amount of advertising that is sold for that day, the reporter normally has enough room to tell the story completely.
Most daily papers have two significant sources of news, the news agencies, and its own staff of reporters, who cover local news, such as city councils, school boards, press conferences by the mayor, the police beat and other events.
There is usually a sports editor or sports department, depending on the size of the community and town and a person who deals with engagements, weddings, birth announcements, home-improvement tips and the right. At one time, these people were called the society editor. Later lifestyle editor came into widespread use. Today, the section of the paper has a name, and the person is responsible for meeting deadlines and having the right stories is just another department editor. He or she may have a staff, or one person could be in charge of everything for that section.
Young reporters, those just finishing journalism schools, will often start out with a small newspaper and discovered a lot of the things he learned in school do not apply in the real world.
The same is true for reporters. Students finish journalism school, and they know about the basic five w’s and h questions (who, what, when where, why and how). They discover in the real world that all of those questions do not have to be in the story.
Thus, just as doctors go through an internship, reporters go through one and sometimes two internships. Many journalism schools will arrange for a student to intern at the local paper for a night or two each week. Some may arrange an entire semester. However, the real internship comes when a young reporter covers the city council meeting, and a considerable amount of time is spent discussing whether the background of the city flag should be lighter or darker.
Journalism school does not teach reporters about the non-newsworthy events that they will have to cover. For example, the city council may meet and within minutes agreed to spend $2 million on a new street. However, more than an hour was spent discussing the background of the city flag. It is all part of the job.
Therefore, fresh out of journalism school, the reporter has to learn that he has not learned everything he needs to know to work for a small paper, which hopefully, will lead to a job at a larger paper.
However, as the numbers of newspapers are decreasing, these jobs are becoming harder to find. The same situation applies to news magazines. Many have ceased publications, and those that remain print fewer pages and have seen a dramatic decline in revenue, according to many sources that appear on the Internet.
Thus, the newspaper reporters, who were taught to write in detail, are becoming Internet writers and bloggers and are including fewer details in their stories.