1st Week Newsletter: When Journalists Receive Bad Press

In this newsletter, Freya, our President-Elect, emphasises the continued importance of journalism despite its controversial public perception in recent years, highlighting some insightful reading - including the work of this week’s guest speaker, James Marriott.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about public perceptions of journalism.

In a community as small as Oxford, it’s generally well-known if someone writes for the student press, but how does this translate into the professional world? Providing they amount to more than an invisible byline, will a journalist be seen as glamorous, cut-throat, or seedy? Clarissa Ward certainly addressed the extremes of this question in her Times article about reporting from Kharkiv while visibly pregnant: did this make her heroic or reckless? While many accept journalism as an essential pillar of democracy, journalists themselves are often targets for poorly-founded criticism and hate. Just look at Prince Harry’s book Spare – whatever his experience with the paparazzi, the ease with which he blames the “grotesque” media for his family’s manifold woes seems like an abandonment of personal responsibility. Oxford Media Society speaker James Marriott  explores this in far greater detail with his “Book of the Week”.

Fortunately, there are also times when the public value of journalism is undeniable, with Sky News and Tortoise Media’s recent coverage of the Westminster Accounts being a perfect example. Not only is the investigation exactly “on-brand” with our current political climate, but Sam Coates’ astounding legwork also proves the enduring power of poking noses and asking questions, in an era when writing AI may otherwise threaten to erode the profession. At the end of the day, there can be no substitute for work “on the ground” and therefore, society needs its journalists.

Oxford University Media Society can’t wait to welcome you to our events so you can meet some of the biggest names in the industry!

Recommended Reading

The Times: Pregnant in a war zone: the mother of all assignments

Sky News: The Westminster Accounts

The Times: James Marriott

Prospect: How not to save the NHS

Freya Jones