Journalism, in the past, was a revered occupation. Journalism keeps the democratic ideal by providing citizens the information to make rational, self-governing decisions for themselves. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Journalism is obviously an important aspect of a democratic environment, but modern journalism is dropping the ball in regards to preserving such democratic ideals.
Like I mentioned above, journalism should provide vital information to citizens, so they can make important decisions for themselves. For example, stories about hopeful politicians could influence the masses to vote for a specific candidate. Stories about corruption can help the people congregate in a collective effort to eradicate the corrupt from office. The people deserve to know about the antics of those in power, because ignorance is a dangerous weapon if it is widespread. These people in power would wield the ultimate capacity to control the masses in a world without journalism. Taking away newspapers and the ability to inform the public would have disastrous effects, and journalists have the responsibility to report on stories that have relevance in the lives of the people.
Modern journalism is steering away from this principle. Modern journalism tends to consist with filler material that has little or no importance in the lives of others.
I think this is the fault of the people, as well as the reporters. To quote another prevalent figure, Julian Assange once said, “If journalism is good, it is controversial, by its nature.” Good journalism should get the public talking about relevant topics. Instead, modern journalism tends to consist of daily updates on Justin Bieber’s life and other irrelevant pop culture stories. The blame for this lies with the people and the reporters.
In my opinion, the reporters are not fulfilling their responsibilities as credible journalists, but at the same time I cannot blame them for publishing such stories. They are trying to appeal to the masses by publishing these trivial stories, which obviously is a better business move because the general public does not care about hard news anymore. If hard news sold like it did in the past, I believe more journalists would report it. But, since the public’s view on what is important is so skewed, journalists report on what they believe will increase revenue.
Now-a-days, journalists have an abundance of mediums to get their story to the public because of the internet. Social media and online sources have given journalists the most opportunity to get their message across than ever before, yet it continues to lose credibility.
Journalism needs to return to its roots and report on topics of relevance. The public also needs to keep up with hard news because, in reality, these are the types of situations that affect your life. Elections, war news, foreign affairs, etc. can impact you directly, and because this is a democratic nation, you have the power to change the situation.
Chris Chipman is a junior English major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.