Journalism organizations spotlight series: RTDNA, ASNE and NPPA

by Terrance Smith
Oct 30, 2018 in Journalism Basics


This story was updated at 1:49 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. 

This is the second installment of IJNet's spotlight series on journalism organizations. You can also read the first installment, focusing on SPJ, IRE and ONA.

In this feature, IJNet examines the support and opportunities of the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).

Industry challenges

Newsrooms nationwide face several problems including a changing business landscape and a decline in public trust. These organizations help journalists face these issues.

For many journalists, maintaining a positive perception in society today is a challenge on its own. The concept of “fake news" and the lack of trust between journalists and citizens is a concern to NPPA president Michael King.

"We're concerned about the level of the public's distrust in journalism...this is where our advocacy efforts really come into play,” said King. “If we aren't speaking out for [journalists], who will?"

Recently, NPPA released a statement in response to the coordinated message that Sinclair Broadcast Group anchors were instructed to read. The statement reiterated key components of their code of ethics. The statement condemns the use of an employee’s credibility for political messaging, and considers it an affront to widely-held journalistic standards.

RTDNA formed the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force in 2017. The task force is a collaborative effort between broadcast and digital journalism companies such as Tegna, Hearst and Scripps to provide a vigorous defense for the First Amendment.

The task force’s two missions are to defend against every attack on press freedom in the United States and help the public understand why journalism is essential to their daily lives.

During the civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, through their task force, RTDNA made their resources available to any journalists that needed emergency legal assistance when reporting.

Recognition, outreach and education

Although many people think only of the Pulitzer Prizes, journalists can win a plethora of awards.

For example, each year since 1971, RTDNA presents the Edward R. Murrow Awards to showcase outstanding digital and broadcast journalism efforts.

These organizations also conduct education and outreach in the journalism community.

ASNE offers programs, trainings and workshops to help further their members journalism skills, according to president Alfredo Carbajal. One such program is Sunshine Week. Journalists spend a week attending award luncheons, panel discussions, workshops and other events on the latest developments on journalism tools and freedom of information resources. Events take place all over the U.S.

NPPA also conducts several events and workshops around the country so that their members are trained and educated on the latest technologies and trends in journalism.

In April, NPPA conducted the Advanced Storytelling Workshop in Texas to help communicators become more efficient. Scott Jensen, NPPA member at the workshop, said, “Members and storytellers in journalism and other communication fields receive instruction and critiques to the work they produce during the workshop.”

Members come away with an understanding of specific techniques, such as adding elements of anticipation. “Allowing the viewer to discover a revelation on his or her own is a power storytelling tool,” said Jensen. “The element of surprise leads to a more engaged viewer.”

Inclusion and protection

Joining a professional organization like those discussed above gives journalists a professional community, which helps them to feel included in an industry that can be very isolating.

“ASNE offers a place where news leaders or leaders of newsrooms across the country can gather to discuss the larger issues affecting journalism,” Carbajal said.

These organizations also work to encourage greater diversity in journalism. ASNE’s Emerging Leaders Institute helps minority journalists become leaders in the newsroom. They are trained on goal-setting, finance, strategy, leadership style, diversity, technology and innovation.

NPPA is also dedicated to ensuring that anyone who joins their organization is welcomed and valued, King said.

"That means preventing and calling out harassment and improving diversity at our events,” said King. “I think we have done a good job, but there's room for improvement. Our voice only gets more powerful if we can represent more people."

RTDNA is also working to protect journalists from obstacles that hinder their reporting. Several internal and external forces can impede a journalist’s work.

"RTDNA works every day to ensure that journalists are protected from threats, harassment, obstructions and other efforts that prevent them from reporting and serving the country," RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley said.

RTDNA is a partner with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The committee offers a 24-hour legal defense hotline for legal matters small or large.

These organizations all aim to improve the quality of journalism and the environments in which journalists work. For information on how to join, upcoming events and how to register for future conferences, visit the RTDNA, ASNE and NPPA websites.

Main image CC-licensed by Pixabay via TeroVesalainen.