Aspiring journalists don’t go into the media industry for the money. They don’t believe they will find the stability of a nine to five job, or the protection of an office’s four walls. Instead, the majority of journalists set out to do good work in the world: to ask the hard questions, to hold people accountable, and to increase the accessibility of information. Even the framers of the US Constitution believed in journalism’s role in upholding a democratic society, protecting the field in the First Amendment.

If all this is true, then why has the news media become the focus of so much blame? If journalists’ main job is to communicate with the public, how can we explain the inability to communicate journalism’s worth and integrity?

These are some of the questions that motivated us to create Breaking the News, a student documentary exploring the news industry’s disconnect with its audience. That is, the disconnect between the role journalism institutions aspire to fill and the role the public perceives them as actually filling.

We’re interested less in the challenges facing the media industry (there are many) than we are in people’s perception of these challenges. This is as much a journalism project as it is a psychological survey, which is why our director/producer is a journalism major at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and our associate producer is studying psychology at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.

While research has already been done into how the news media shapes the public, we’re going to look at how the audience shapes the news media. We’ll be spending our summer asking newsrooms across the country how their relationships with their audiences have changed, and the public about the role they believe that journalism plays in their lives today.

We’ll be updating this site with blog posts and video clips in every place we visit, so stay tuned.

The Blog

Who We Are



Rachel made a documentary in high school about, well, high school and now that she’s studying journalism, she’s making a documentary about…journalism. When she’s not making documentaries, she can probably be found pretending to be artsy at coffee shops, asking her friends existential questions, or watching Friends.


Sammi grew up wanting to be a teacher, and then a therapist, and then a teacher and a therapist, and now is going to college to study how people think and feel. One day, she was helping Rachel with her thinking and feeling and then quickly realized this project is entirely about our collective thoughts and feelings and joined the team.


Niki began her career in journalism in high school by working as an editor for her school paper, but in college she realized her true passion was video journalism. Now she spends her time producing and reporting for the Northwestern News Network, and napping every chance she gets.


Lauren decided on her career path after watching Marley & Me, thinking to herself that being a columnist like Owen Wilson’s character sounded fun and fresh. Now a freshman in Medill, Lauren spends her time making to do lists, playing field hockey, and writing emails to potential sources for Breaking the News.


Emma started a print magazine about horses when she was eight, and has been obsessed with graphic design ever since. Her favorite font is Fira and she hates when the spacing on things is just a liiiittle off. When she’s not buried in the Adobe Suite, she might be found practicing calligraphy or running a marathon.


Ryan has been writing and producing music since he was but a wee lad. He loves spending his time in 8×8 practice rooms and listening to the same 3 seconds of music on repeat to line his clips up juuuuust right.