Journalism is pretty powerful stuff. Who else is going to cover the opening of the new Subway down the block? You have the power to raise awareness and be a voice for the oppressed.
In fact, nations have been formed by the power of journalism. You may have heard of one. It’s this little global power called the United States. Before the Revolutionary period, newspapers published essays about religion. Benjamin Harris decided to put an end to that and published a monthly newspaper called Publick Occurences, Both Forreign and Domestick. His newspaper covered politics until he was nicely ordered to shut down the newspaper by the British government.
Slowly during the next ten years, more and more people published newspapers and pamphlets that criticized the British government and their pesky taxes. These newspapers help form public outrage and fueled the call for a new government. After the Revolutionary war, political figures like Thomas Jefferson wanted to make sure that Americans never lost their right to free speech and quality journalism. He wrote in a letter: “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.” Before you nod off from the history lesson, the battle for quality journalism is still being waged.
President Obama spoke about the crisis in journalism. There is a danger that journalism is losing its quality. Newspapers are shutting their doors. Bloggers and media enterprises are taking over. Let’s be honest. Both bloggers and new media enterprises need ad revenue. How do you get it? You generate ad revenue by publishing short bits of sensational information that people can quickly absorb and move on. Throw in some flashy graphics and you’ve baked a good issue.
What’s the solution? New media enterprises need to publish more diverse content. Perhaps a couple more articles that can go beyond who Kim Kardashian is dating this month. You have the power to help old journalism transition to new media. You have the power to foster quality journalism.