Journalists try not to get involved in their stories, working to stay objective and cover whatever issue it is fairly and without bias.  That’s the idea.

Then our economy took a nosedive as our media industry was undergoing its own revolution.  And now, we’re covering our collective furloughs, layoffs and closings.

Jill Geisler, who works for a journalistic think tank called the Poynter Institute, recently published a letter to non-journalistic employers with 10 Great Reasons why to hire a journalist.   Even if you think you are totally secure, the article will make you feel better about everything we do.

This afternoon, I joined Jill and other current, former and future journalists at an online chat on Poynter’s website (read the log here).  It was a great mix of people at various points in their career, giving and getting advice as well as listening and learning how others are working to make the best of a time most of us have not lived through before.  They asked a question that I would like to ask you to answer below.  Thanks.

Our group overall seemed very positive about the prospects for a network of people covering specific Grand Rapids neighborhoods.  Obviously, we had a lot of questions, some of which may not be answered until the first one is operational.

For example, for that person to succeed, they will need to be connected to what’s happening in that neighborhood.  And who wouldn’t want to play up the positives where they live and downplay the negatives?

I believe everyone has some level of bias, no matter what they claim!  No one is free of having no opinion on any issue.   Editorial processes in newsrooms across the country help remove as much of that as is possible.  If this NNB is staffed with just one person, a check-and-balance system would need to be developed.

The NewsU Website

The NewsU Website

The people staffing the NNB’s will need training, in both journalistic areas as well as technical requirements of their gear.  NewsU, run by the Poynter Institute and funded by the same Knight Foundation that sponsors this project, has dozens of free, online, self-taught courses.  And I’m sure the commercial media will help fill in the technical gaps.  It’s in all our best interests.