Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Brandon Wheeler


Engagement and relevance


Kovach and Rosenstiel begin their eight chapter by talking about the difficulties of sick children.  Journalists no doubt find these stories as important, but also find them nearly impossible to approach.  Kovach and Rosenstiel go on to talk about how hard it is to do a story on a family’s struggle to save a child that is terminally ill.  At that same time, journalist know how touching and moving those stories can be to others when told.  ESPN is one of the best, if not the best, at doing these types of stories.  Every year ESPN does a series on terminally ill children and their families.  The series is called “My Wish.”  It is part of the Make A Wish Foundation for terminally sick children.  Personally it is one of my favorite things they do.  I look forward to seeing them and watch them with a heavy heart.  Anyone who watches one is likely to have tears in your eyes by the time it is over. 

            What the “My Wish” series does is take a terminally ill child that loves a sport.  More in particular a certain athlete of that sport.  Then they come and surprise that kid and take him to wherever that athlete is, usually the stadium.  The athlete will then just hang out with the kid for the day.  Playing catch, video games, meeting the other players and getting signed memorabilia and just forgetting for one day that they are sick.  They have done athletes such as Drew Brees, Tony Hawk, David Ortiz, Shaq, Dwayne Wade, and the Dallas Cowboys football team.  This series touches me every time that I watch it and inspires me to do something with sick children one day.  That to me is great journalism.  It is not always about breaking news, but is also about telling peoples stories and inspiring others to help and become better people.  That was good journalism is.  Of course we still need watchdog journalism too,  It is vital to the running of democracy.  But, there should always be room for these stories of incredible people facing dire circumstances.  The most powerful thing a journalist can do is trigger the emotion of the people watching or reading that journalists story.

            Kovach and Rosentstiel then go on to talk about entertainment news or “infotainment.”  I don’t care for it much, but sometimes it is intriguing no doubt.  However, I don’t think it has news value unless it is something along the lines of Tiger Woods car accident/wife going crazy cause he cheated or Michael Jackson dying.  The rest should remain on E. 


  1. What good journalism is....

    I agree that stories like the make a wish ones are touching and important to journalism, but I have to disagree that these are the definition of good journalism as you say. They have their place, and I love a good tear jerker as much as the next person, but watchdog journalism, investigative stories, articles about the war overseas are, in my personal opinion, what good journalism is. To me good journalism is taking an issue that is extremely relevant to your audience and helping them make sense out of the issue and as you say above, creating the need to take action based on the information. While I am all for helping people (I love volunteering!) as a journalist I think we have to think about what best serves our audience and helping kids is great but what about helping them understand the issues that are directly effecting them and not just a kid suffering thousands of miles away who is dying no matter what they do to help.
    This sounds harsh I know, but I really don't hate sick kids! ;)

  2. I also disagree that the My Wish stories done by ESPN are the definition of good journalism. I agree with Whitney that they are important and inspirational, yes, but to me good journalism is investigates issues and events that have a direct impact on a large number of citizens. I feel like a segment or story like ESPN's My Wish series is more feature/lifestyle/entertainment than the news news I associate with defining journalism.

    I also don't want to come off sounding too negative. I too thoroughly enjoy the series — the kid with Leukemia that got to meet Shaq especially sticks out in my memory. I think they serve a purpose to inspire and cause an emotional response, but I consider it feature more than news.

  3. I love the my wish stories. They are so touching and have a positive impact on not only those that are in the story but also for those people in the audience. I think ESPN does an awesome job on stories like these and one's that are similar. I would not say this is bad journalism. I think there is a place for this in journalism. And in certain scenarios and markets such as ESPN it fits perfect. It is important to get stories like this out there.

  4. I agree with you regardless of what the "rah rah" fist-pumping hard news lovers say. Of course there are elements of journalism that encompass all of these ideas. Journalism is good when someone can take something away from watching it. Just because you aren't talking about a mass amount of people in a particular story, or simply because your story doesn't effect everyone, doesn't mean that it doesn't signify what good journalism is.

    We all get so caught up in changing the world one Watergate at a time, that we forget that we are all human. Stories that help us put our own lives into perspective can DEFINITELY be defined as good journalism. News is allowed to have an effect on people. I won't dare sit back and say that simply because it primarily causes us to act emotionally, that it doesn't define good journalism.

    The OU faculty idolizes Bob Dotson. He is considered a great journalist. His stories, while they may be features and longer news pieces, are what we are taught to model our work after. If these stories are not considered good journalism, why do we strive to make our works more like those?

    Perhaps what would BEST serve our audience, is reminding them that we are all humans, and that we all can relate to one another in more ways than we think. Sometimes instead of watchdog journalists, maybe we should be "lapdog" journalists. Sometimes instead of protecting the people, maybe we should comfort them as well.

    Good Post Brandon.