Nicholas Jackson identifies that one of the most common complaints about media outlets is the frequency that journalists just repackage press releases. I have always been strongly against such writing, because to me, it wasn’t writing at all, it was just a regurgitation of someone else’s selected words and phrases. BBC journalist Waseem Zakir is widely credited for coming up with a term that describes this process – “churnalism.”
Writing for Wikinews did not involve me re-writing press releases, but it did involve re-writing news stories from other news publications. While this type of journalism or “churnalism” is becoming more and more popular in today’s fast-paced news environment, it was something I never wished to participate in. I was of strong belief that journalism should encompass original reporting and storytelling, all which the journalist researched themselves. However, I felt that I needed to give it a go, especially because it could be what is left of journalism in the future. After writing and submitting for publication five of these re-written articles, I felt that it was time I went back to original reporting.
I decided to write an article about a female friend who had recently returned from the International Powerlifting Federation World Classic championships in Russia. I felt that mainstream media usually ignore this type of story and therefore was thrilled when the opportunity came for me to write it. Original reporting feels like storytelling to me and is something that I really love. While writing this story, it was hard for me to remain in a newsworthy mindscape and allow myself to dive into the wonders of storytelling. However, with the core news values in mind, my story remained sharp, concise and interesting.
I submitted my story to Women’s Agenda, an online publication for career-minded and inspiring women. I felt that because of my friend’s enormous achievements, she would be seen as an inspiring woman for many. I decided to not submit this story to Wikinews because after all my experiences, I was aware that this wasn’t the type of story for them.
Women’s Agenda have emailed me and wrote that they might publish my article, but this hasn’t happened yet. This reflects the exclusivity of mainstream media, where hundreds of student journalists attempt to publish their work on these sites but each time are declined, most of the time without reason and sometimes a response is never received. It mirrors the difficulty facing student journalists today and in the future, where publication is essential for future work but succeeding to get published is sometimes nearly impossible. I always wonder why so many student stories are rejected, many of which are good quality. It’s a free service for an industry that is constantly looking for ways to save money. Sometimes the amount of disinterest from mainstream media baffles me. I understand it’s a competitive world out there, but students are at the lowest of the ranks and we don’t ask for much in return. I think collaboration should be more positively embraced, it could even lift journalism from its slow downfall.
Although this article hasn’t been published yet, I’m very proud of the piece and am happy to have just written it. It allowed me to hear someone’s jaw-dropping story and re-tell it, and that is what I really love.