11 Jun Why Practicing Law and Journalism Is So Similar
Whilst the two disciplines of law and journalism can appear juxtaposing at times, there are far more similarities between the pair than people care to admit. There is a perception of attorneys working entirely for their own selfish benefit where the truth can be regarded as an afterthought.
Meanwhile, the general consensus around journalists traditionally has been a positive one whereby writers act as crusaders for the truth. However, given recent events, the standing of truth and facts has been placed under threat as digital players, commercial interests and coercive threats throw into question what role journalists play in modern society.
Has this new landscape shifted opinions on lawyers as a result? Whatever your opinion is of these two disciplines, there is no doubt that there are overlapping features and characteristics that allow both professions to be compared from a professional standpoint.
Getting Ahead of the News/Story
A lawyer will often find themselves in a scenario whereby they are in a race to gather evidence ahead of the opposition when a case is in process. Whether they are on the defense or prosecution side of the bench, there is a need to speak to key witnesses, to gather police reports and formulate documents that support their case – all information that is not of public knowledge beforehand.
What has been outlined here is essentially a description of what constitutes a quality journalist. Although they might not take a position as readily as their legal counterpart on a conflict, they will need to undertake their own research efforts in order to formulate a conclusion. The only real difference is that the audience is the general public and not a judge or jury.
Mentally and Emotionally Challenging
The strain and pressure that is placed upon attorneys and journalists alike can be immense from a human level. There is a duty of care component when a lawyer has the wellbeing of their client at stake, with their livelihoods altering dramatically depending on whether the case is won or lost.
The same can be said for a writer for a publication where the details of a story going public can alter the lives of the subject irrevocably. Exposing an individual, group or organization for wrongdoing places a great deal of pressure on the journalist writing the article and this is where a degree of emotional intelligence can be vitally important.
Sources and Privacy
There are certain rights that are afforded to lawyers and journalists when speaking to parties of interest. They are not overbearing, but from attorney-client privilege and the protections of sources, there is a continued respect and practice for discretion that is rare in other professional circles.