For those who don’t know, I’m currently studying Journalism at the University of Lincoln. I’ve been here for just over a month now and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
One of the many things I love about the course is seeing the nuts and bolts of journalism and how it works. It was from the first few lectures and seminars that I learnt about two key skills journalists should have: observation and investigation.
Now – being a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes – I was quick to see the link. After all, journalists are required to ask the right questions and go beyond what may be presented at face value. As Sherlock says to Watson in A Scandal in Bohemia: “You see, but you do not observe.” It is this quote which describes the difference between a good and bad journalist. It also ties in very well with a key characteristic of any reporter, which is to be constantly curious.
Also, journalists have – in a sense – be a detective when it comes to gathering evidence. Whilst detectives need evidence for a criminal case, journalists require evidence in the form of quotes.
In fact, the structure of news stories implies a sense of investigation. The first paragraph basically describes what happens and then the story develops before quotes are added. These quotes, for journalists, are their evidence. With trust in the media dwindling over the last few years, obtaining thoughts from those involved in a story shows proof that the journalist’s investigation has taken place and what they are saying is true.
Essentially, this comparison between Sherlock Holmes and today’s journalism can show the common characteristics required of journalists (being curious, asking questions and so forth), but it’s the idea of exploring and investigating which makes this comparison an interesting one.