By Ghadeer Ghloum and Nebal Snan
KUWAIT: Like many professions, journalism is haunted by misconceptions. In this article, we bust four common myths about the news making business.
Myth #1 — Newspapers are decaying Newspapers are evolving, but certainly not dying. Newspapers that provide a space for creativity and innovation are able to bring about new forms of journalism. This helps them adapt to the modern era.
Myth #2 — People dislike journalists Before joining the world of journalism, I had the stereotypical idea that journalists were disliked and was uncertain where my passion lay. But when I became a journalist for Kuwait Times, I found that this profession is actually the best fit for me due to the nature of the work, where I have the opportunity to be creative. There is no killer routine — on the contrary, it offers freedom which is the most important element for me to give more and better.
There’s also the opportunity to engage in various sectors, both public and private. As a journalist, when I go to cover an event, I see that unlike what I believed, people greatly respect and appreciate the work of journalism and journalists. Still, a good journalist makes a lot of enemies. People who commit wrongful actions hate journalists because journalists play a crucial role in holding them accountable. On the other hand, people who look for transparency and democracy admire journalists who pursue the truth.
Myths #3 and #4 — Everyone is a journalist these days; they’re all not trustworthy During a meeting with our Kuwait Times summer academy students, they shared that their attempts to interview passersby for the purpose of engaging public opinion on a topic were often met with rude rejections. It’s not a surprising outcome, especially given the conservative nature of Kuwaiti society. But the students said it wasn’t just that — people have come to lose trust in journalists.
As we discussed the breadth of reasons behind the erosion of trust, one perspective stood out. Some TikTok influencers, claiming to be journalists, have reportedly been bombarding passersby in some areas with random questions while shoving a smartphone and mic in their face. The irresponsible attitude these influencers have, one of our students told me, has led many people to believe that journalists have no concept of empathy or decency.
The misconception left many shying away from anyone claiming to be a journalist, even if they were professionally trained or affiliated with a news organization. Now, let’s be honest here, citizen journalists or influencers can provide excellent documentation of events as they happen, such as the recent hailstorm that hit Kuwait this summer. But maintaining credibility requires knowledge of a few basic principles – in this case, the sound judgement to word questions and the proper etiquette with which to approach the public.
Posting news content on TikTok or Instagram doesn’t automatically make someone a journalist. While it’s true that some media organizations have fallen short of reporting fair and accurate news, journalists recognize the standards of the profession and are taught to abide by them as they work in the interest of the people. A journalist’s ultimate purpose is not influencing the audience but informing and empowering them to make sense of events and issues. Journalists are responsible for researching and verifying the information relayed to the audience and providing differing perspectives and analyses.
They also use language and imagery thoughtfully while considering context. And most importantly, a journalist has an understanding and commitment to professional ethics throughout the content creation process. Ultimately, the public is entitled to refuse to speak with media. But the next time you’re approached by journalist from Kuwait Times, please trust that upholding high standards is integral to our work.
If you’re an aspiring citizen journalist or social media influencer, the onus is on you to educate yourself about how journalism works — take a course (perhaps join our summer academy next year?) or read a book. At a time when the public’s trust in journalists is at stake, it’s best to learn the fundamentals before claiming the title.