Politics exacerbates these problems. Not only is the temptation to let opinions color reporting greater, but the need to be accurate is higher. Political discussions are already obscured with spin and misinformation. Journalists need to clear the air, not pollute it.
Additionally, journalists seldom have to deal with sources as savvy as candidates and their campaigns. Campaigns have a wide range of people dedicated to maintaining every facet of their public image and candidates are practiced in dealing with media. Arriving at an accurate and authentic story becomes harder when quotes are so calculated. With the Citizens United ruling, even more money is going towards campaigns, if not the candidates directly. Keeping an eye on the connection between these new groups and the official campaigns will be crucial during this election.
Because there's so much changing in how journalism is produced and published, these questions are becoming more challenging. Does writing in your Twitter description that "retweets are not endorsements" really preserve neutrality? Do we hold blogs to the same standards as we do regular articles? (Do we even have the time to?) Is it acceptable to live-blog rumors if we make it clear they're unconfirmed?
What I hope to get from this class is not only an understanding of current political reporting but also a look into what direction it's heading in. Between each presidential election, the landscape of the web and social media shifts dramatically. Just between 2010 and May, daily use of Twitter quadrupled.
To me, the best way to cope is by focusing on timeless skills and constantly devoting time to mastering upcoming technologies. Timeless skills are things like reporting, writing and grammar. Upcoming technologies are too numerous to list, but at the moment, they mostly include social media and mobile devices. Maintaining a healthy balance is hard, but journalism has always been about maintaining balances: balancing competing sides, balancing your writing with your source's quotations and of course, balancing your responsibility to readers with your duty towards sources.