Top 10: The Elements of Journalism, by Kovach and Rosenstiel

These are the 10 theses present in The Elements of Journalism, written by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. You will stray from time-to-time. You will blur the lines and possibly bend the rules. That’s okay. Morals and virtues are put in place because people need reminding. Human mistakes trump almost everything else. That’s part of the game.

Post these on your wall. Above your computer. Atop your shitter. Just remember that they’re important.

You don’t have to believe in God. (You probably shouldn’t.) But, believe in something.

1. Journalism’ first obligation is to the truth.

2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.

3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.

4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.

6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.

7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.

8. It must keep the news comprehensive and in proportion.

9. Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience.

10. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.


“These are tough times for journalism. Newsroom executives’ bonuses tend to be based on their company’s profit margin. Journalists are constantly jockeying for the time and space necessary to tell their stories as they see fit. Only 47 percent of Americans even read a newspaper. And Time and Newsweek — news magazines, remember? — ‘were seven times more likely to have the same cover story as People magazine in 1997 than in 1977.'”