Why Journalism Still Matters
The chatter about journalism being a dying industry seems to emerge at the turn of every new invention that is deemed the one that will “take the place” of traditional forms of media. It is a conversation often overheard by talented, aspiring writers, or students on their path to earning a journalism degree, who, in turn, develop a fear that they will not be able to establish a career in the field they find themselves most attracted to.
It is simply human nature to believe that the old way becomes irrelevant when we move on to something newer. The reality is, however, that journalism is still journalism; we just create it and audiences simply receive it in a different way. Actually, I find it to be a field that has undergone metamorphic changes. Under the pressures of technology, journalism has transformed from a hard, rock-like structure to a form that is more conducive to society as a whole, rather than a few elite who understand the jargon of journalism in times past. So the overarching question that we face is: “Does journalism still matter?” The simple answer: “Now more than ever!”
To conceptualize this simple answer, there are three areas that deserve attention: accessibility, credibility, and dependability.
In this country we are fortunate to have access to many forms of technology that allow us to get news and information when we want it and how we want it. With so many freedoms and so many ways of engaging from which to choose, we fail to consider that segment of society who may not enjoy those same freedoms either because of location or economic constraints. Since there is still inequality in these areas, traditional media is still very much needed by a large segment of our society. Journalism still matters and we must develop students into consummate professionals who are eager to deliver the news to everyone.
There is one ill that we face in journalism, and that is credibility. We have been betrayed more times than necessary by untruths and lack of objectivity in many areas of the industry, whether from a blogger, citizen reporter, or professional journalist. We need to know that information that is being disseminated comes from those who we can categorize as credible. So yes, journalism still matters and our responsibility is to continually expound on the importance of maintaining credibility in every journalism course that we teach.
Finally, there is the one culminating concept that brings the simple answer to the question “Does journalism still matter?” full circle: dependability. We depend on dedicated journalists to be our eyes and ears in places we cannot be and provide us with information that is timely so that we can make necessary decisions to lead full, productive lives. Indeed, journalism still matters because our very lives may depend on it.
Ironically, the fact that we continue to talk about it is probably the best proof that it is neither dead nor dying, but alive and thriving. The mere fact that you are reading this piece, read those before it, and will probably read those that follow is a very strong indicator that journalism matters.
Written by Teresa Taylor Moore, PhD.
Teresa is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Journalism and Mass Communication degree program at Ashford University.