By Claire Clay
If you have never heard some form of the phrase: “Journalism is dead,” well, maybe it is.
But, I don’t think that’s the case at all. It’s not dying, it’s just changing.
At Bluffton, the four enduring values are ingrained into our brains from day one, and as a student who is trained in journalistic writing, I believe that the two are intertwined.
Journalists discover the truth. Journalists respect other truth-telling people and their audience. Journalists live to serve the public. Journalists bring a community together (or harshly separate it).
Does that sound familiar? Discovery, respect, service and community?
Before I dive into the intermingling of journalism and Bluffton’s enduring values, let’s address this “truth” to which I’ve been referring. Reporting the truth is the most important part of journalism, and in a world full of “fake news,” it’s hard to tell what is real and what isn’t, even if the journalist is reputable.
In an article by Walter Dean (written for the American Press Institute), he writes “ ‘journalistic truth’ is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, subject to further investigation.”
Some people claim that fake news is a result of dying journalism, but in reality, fake news is a result of lazy and/or money-hungry people who claim to be journalists.
But, here’s the real cause of why people assume it’s dying: Journalism is horribly undervalued.
Those real journalists who discover, respect, serve and communicate all sides of a story are seemingly expected by the publics they serve to provide the truth for free.
So, journalists are the ones who help the public make decision about the truth, but we’re expected to do so without compensation?
I don’t think so. How’s a person supposed to live with no income?
Now, you might be one of those few who actually pay for a subscription to The New York Times or The Washington Post, but would you be willing to pay for a subscription to The Witmarsum? No? Why not?
If you can’t even invest in your own students, classmates and colleagues, how can you expect to get accurate, well-written, engaging news in the outside world?
I’ll be honest; I’m one of those people who only has a subscription to The New York Times because Bluffton gets a special deal for students.
I’m also one of those people who gets her fill of “news” from the 140-character tweets posted by Fox News and CNN. This relatively “new” style of gathering news from social media is a cause of the problem.
Twitter and Facebook are free. News outlets post on Twitter and Facebook. Do you see the conclusion I’m drawing? If not, I’ll lay it out for you.
It takes resources— human and financial—to generate and produce reliable, accurate, engaging and timely news. Unfortunately, a large portion of us either don’t want to or don’t care enough to pay for our news content.
We, as humans, are inclined to flock toward the most efficient and cost-effective solutions. It’s in our nature. We use social media without thinking because it’s free. Then, because news outlets post on those sites, we automatically assume “news” should be “free.”
Well, it isn’t, and we’re only going to face more problems if we don’t mount the collective willpower to counter this trend.
Your next question may be: “Well, how do we fix it?”
My answer: Value your students. Your peers. Your classmates. Your colleagues. Value those who you don’t know but who provide you with the news you so crave.
Consider investing in those same people by subscribing to reputable news sources.