Kat McGrory '05 to Explore How Modern Technology Affects Journalists' Objectivity

As the editor-in-chief of Hamilton College's student newspaper, The Spectator, a staff writer for The Poughkeepsie Journal, and a guest columnist for the local Utica Observer-Dispatch, Kat McGrory '05 (Poughkeepsie, NY) has a deep interest in journalism and print media. Despite all her experience working in newsrooms, McGrory still had lingering questions about the history of journalism and how modern technology has been affecting journalists' ability to remain objective; objectivity is critical to reporting, and unfortunately, digital technology now threatens journalists' ability to remain objective while reporting. As an Emerson scholar, McGrory hopes to explore this topic, examining objectivity in newsrooms and the role digital technology plays in reporting.

McGrory will work with Hamilton College Professor of Communication Catherine Kaha on a project titled "Just the facts? Print journalism, objectivity and the digital age." McGrory plans to study the technological advances of the 21st century and the challenges it brings to the notion of objectivity in print journalism.

Summer Research 2004 

She explains objectivity to have been "established as a 'fourth estate' by the American notion of democracy and the 19th century concept of rationalism." McGrory adds, "objectivity has long since played an important role in American journalism…objective reporting has become the crux of American reporting in the 21st century."

McGrory hopes to explore the history of objectivity in journalism to "better understand how objectivity is embedded in the roots of American journalism"; she will also examine the role objectivity plays today in newsrooms, looking critically at "objectivity as convention" by interning at the Utica Observer-Dispatch. McGrory hopes to prove that despite technological advances such as the internet, the digital media, and immediate news coverage, "objectivity will remain an important ideal of print journalism, because of its longstanding history and tradition."

McGrory is a junior majoring in economics and Spanish at Hamilton.

Created in 1997, the Emerson Foundation Grant program was designed to provide students with significant opportunities to work collaboratively with faculty members, researching an area of interest. The recipients, covering a range of topics, will explore fieldwork, laboratory and library research, and the development of teaching materials. The projects will be initiated this summer, and the students will make public presentations of their research throughout the 2004-2005 academic year.

-- by Emily Lemanczyk '05

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