It is written in The Elements of Journalism that “the purpose of journalism is not defined by technology, nor by journalists or the techniques they employ.” Rather “the principles and purpose of journalism are defined by something more basic: the function news plays in the lives of people”. This is the precise reason why journalism is so important in our society.
Journalism can then be defined as a form of communication that keeps people informed of what is happening at home, in our communities, and even around the world. Journalism highlights controversial events, issues, and people that have the potential to impact our lives in immense ways. Journalism may be written to be interesting and entertaining, but also journalism may be written to be emotional and awe-inspiring. Nonetheless, journalism is meant to empower; not just the informed but also the uninformed.
For all intents and purposes then, journalism is meant to provide people with the necessary information for them to make the best possible decisions about everything that surrounds them in their lives, their communities, their workplaces, groups and organizations, and even their governments. Unfortunately, the art of journalism is dying and the information that permeates the world today many times seems frivolous and even downright untrue.
Although journalism or the press is not as criticized or under attack as it was in the most recent past, the battles between what is an important topic to cover and what is purely for entertainment continues. The line that is drawn between news that impacts and entertainment that impacts through journalism is being blurred. Today, what we consider to be news is a combination of impactful thoughts, concepts, and ideas veiled over strikingly news-worthy events. But, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
The world around us is changing including the technology we utilize everyday. Many citizens now get their news from electronic sources that can be found through a quick swipe through their newsfeeds. The citizens get to pick and choose, through likes and interests, what news they want to read or ignore. In raising awareness or keeping citizens informed, adapting to the technological avenues might be the most beneficial. The downside? Citizens are no longer informed about things they choose not to read about leaving some major events and decisions outside of their realm. So, in the end what have we lost from our gains?
As the Program Coordinator for the J Student Reporter Program, I have witnessed the importance of journalism. All of the student reporters I oversee write an array of articles in which they express their opinions about a pressing matter in the news or report on a major happening in their school or community. Whatever the topic they choose to write about, it keeps people informed in any way possible. Some may choose to ignore the voices of these student reporters and some may choose to lean in closer to listen, but either way, their presence and importance should not be ignored.
Whitney M. Ahn
JSR Program Coordinator