by Amanda Almonord
James Carey said that journalism is “the keeping of a collective record of the facts and events, important or merely interesting, in the collective life of a community”. This largely remains true. Modern journalism is still a collection of interesting and important news. It is bundled and packaged differently thanks to the rise of digital media, but its essence is still there. However, the work of journalists is being clouded by those who fund their work, leading to a rise of news that comes off as distracting. Articles are being sacrificed for click bait and eye-catching headlines. In fact, most people share news articles that they haven’t read.
Journalism should exist to serve the people. This doesn’t mean that journalists should give the people whatever they want. There is a distinction between serving and reporting selective information. Currently, it appears that journalism is serving the people who fund it, be it advertisers or investors. This shouldn’t come off as a surprise, as there are many news corporations whose ideologies reflect their owners. Selective exposure or providing information that reinforces a person’s view so that they can avoid contradiction seems to be the direction that news media outlets would like journalists to follow. Thankfully, journalists are fighting to be able to speak out against their funders.
Why does journalism operate this way? Shouldn’t journalists and news media outlets strive to serve by informing communities of facts and relevant information, regardless of who is paying them? In a perfect world, maybe. A journalism utopia would look like a world filled with news media outlets reporting facts and encouraging engagement from their readers. Readers wouldn’t have to worry about if their news is credible because, in a perfect world, all news would be credible. News would inform and inspire people to help communities and build new relationships with others. We’re not there yet, but perhaps one day we will.