In the new media age, #JournalismIs... more important than ever

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There's a new advertising campaign adorning pages in Canada's national dailies this summer and it's got journalists talking

The campaign is called JournalismIs and the product it's pushing: journalism itself.

It's part print, digital and TV advertising and part social media conversation using the hashtag #JournalismIs, explained Mary Agnes Welch, a Winnipeg Free Press reporter and spokesperson for the campaign. 

"It always kind of irked me that journalists had no real mechanism to promote their craft and promote the value of journalism," she said.

She mentions that professionals from chiropractors to accountants have ad campaigns promoting the importance of their work, but journalists do not.

"We don't explain how we work. We don't explain why what we do is important," said Welch. 

In addition to giving journalists a sense of pride in their profession -- a pride which has taken a hit, Welch thinks, with recent high profile scandals -- the campaign aims to make people think about the quality of the journalism they consume. 

"With a few keystrokes you can sample thousands of opinions, afloat in a sea of information," the campaigns website reads. "But as the volume increases, the accuracy and reliability of professional journalism is essential."

Its snappy campaign video also questions the reliability of information received via social media feeds may be -- an important question, especially since 30 per cent of U.S. adults get their news via their Facebook feed.

"I think it's the volume of the Buzzfeeds, the Gawkers… [there's] just a huge number of new sources that have popped up in the last decade," said Welch.

The campaign came about as a coalition between big media companies, journalism schools, advocacy groups like the Canadian Association of Journalists and with funding from Unifor.

Welch hopes the coalition can spark something bigger than just the campaign -- perhaps a series of events or a larger conversation about journalism in Canada. 

"The nature of journalism has really changed even in just the last five years with the advent of technology and the online world," said Welch.

She mentions cuts to newsroom budgets which mean fewer journalists are doing more things.

But she also thinks digital reporting techniques have given journalists a greater breadth than they've ever had before.

"We give readers and viewers way more ways into a story," she explained. "They might not read long blocks of text but they might watch a video, they might look at an info graphic, they might look at a slideshow," she added.

The campaign pitches the values and functions of journalism within society.

Its video and posters explain that good journalism is a watchdog over the powerful, essential for public debate and relentless in getting to the truth. 

"We want to start raising awareness about the value of good journalism and what it takes to make it," added Welch.

Megan Devlin is rabble's news intern for 2015. She hails from Toronto, but she's starting her Masters in Journalism in Vancouver. She got her start in journalism working at the Western Gazette where she was a news editor for volume 107 and online associate editor for volume 108.

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