Featured US History and Constitution
Bethanne Kim  

“News”? What Happened to “Journalism”?

I know that the news media has to at least be reasonably close to breaking even, if not making money, to survive, but they have done it in the past. Why not today? According to dictionary.com, “news” is “a report of recent events; intelligence; information.”  “Journalism” is “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business. While the two are very similar, they aren’t the same. At the very least, journalists are supposed to do some minimal research to make sure what they are reporting is factual.

Are there still outstanding journalists working in the field, at many different networks? Yes, there are. Are they allowed to do their job, and do it well? No comment – it might offend someone, and that just isn’t OK. And isn’t that part of the problem?

The job of journalism.

Journalism isn’t about making people happy.

Sometimes people need to be offended, or even hurt. Sometimes a teenage kid needs to hear that other kids won’t stop making fun of them until they start taking a shower (yes, including washing your hair) and using deodorant EVERY DAY, even if it makes them mad to hear it.

Sometimes politicians need to be called out by the media because they are taking lavish vacations while their constituents are forced to decide between paying rent and paying utilities, no matter how angry they get. Heck, sometimes entertainment figures need called out because their behavior has become so unacceptable, even if it offends them to “be told how to live their lives.”

Just as the cartoon shows, the internet is to network news as the giant asteroid was to dinosaurs: end game. I asked my friends, liberal and conservative, what they thought of the neutrality of news from the mainstream media. The unanimous response was, unsurprisingly, that no one thinks the media is unbiased. Most seem to end up primarily watching the outlet whose bias is closest to their own. Others simply tune out and give up on keeping up with the news.

Internet research.

The internet makes it possible to do your own research on a topic, but clearly not everyone has the time and / or skills to do this. End result: a poorly informed populace. If they did, Brian Williams could never have gotten away with his lies for as many years as he did. And he is, himself, more proof that journalism is being treated more as entertainment / business than as a source of truth and facts.

The 1st Amendment wasn’t written to make it easier to keep up with the antics of the latest out-of-control celebrity. The Founders knew the importance of being educated about the world around us.

How do you think the news helps us reach that goal of being educated? Where do you still find journalism? Do you listen to the news on the radio (talk radio, or other channels?) watch the news on tv, or read it? If you read it, do you read newspapers or online sources? Why do you choose that source – convenience, timing (i.e., listening to the radio during drive-time), trustworthiness, agrees with your own beliefs? What is most important to you in choosing a news source? Do you primarily read outlets with similar views, or do you seek out a variety of viewpoints? 

The next time someone brings up journalism and / or the First Amendment, what will you bring to the conversation?

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