Journalism is a field with a stained reputation nowadays, as it is often abused as a tool to further political ideologies and as a smokescreen to blind the public from what is really happening around.
All of this, to some degree, is true; modern news, even in the most developed and free countries, may not be completely trustworthy. Many journalists are trying to be feature writers, putting themselves in the spotlight and spinning the truth into their own agenda. Oftentimes, it is not about news anymore. However, we forget one important thing about journalism: it is the reason why we have been able to access all the true news in the first place.
Journalism is the embodiment and proponent of free speech and free press as rights that the government cannot take away from the people. In fact, journalism’s most important role is to serve as the watchdog of the government, acting almost like a fourth branch of a democratic administration, providing checks and balances to the power of the other branches and holding each official accountable. Journalism is the reason scandals like Watergate were even revealed to the public. Today, it covers various schemes, coups, crackdowns, and outright wars being waged by those in power. Without journalism, these things may just not enter public knowledge, and nothing could be done to stop corruption and abuse of power at the highest level. It is, of course, not only the government that could commit such far-reaching crimes.
In general, journalism promotes accountability because nobody is completely hidden from the public eye.
Anyone could be put in the spotlight, and it is the job of journalists to bring into the spotlight those who deserve public attention, be it for the great things they have done or the horrible things. The public would then react justly, and that would help to give justice to whatever deed was featured. It would also help to spark change. When injustices are brought to light, public attention can begin addressing the need to correct them, which can finally initiate long and much-needed healing. Even without featuring specific people’s situations, news on similar circumstances can be used as inspiration for individuals, families, and small communities to improve and empower themselves and each other.
In shining a light on difficulties, journalists also give a voice to those who would not have one. The marginalized, the discriminated, the poor, the victimized, and those who simply suffer in silence now have the chance to be heard by society. This, among other things, educates people on the true state of the world in its different parts and aspects. Truly, journalism does cover so many different topics that could be of interest to those seeking knowledge and to be updated and conscious of the things happening around them, near and far. This also leads to journalism building bridges between different communities and cultures. We learn more about the beliefs, values, and struggles of other people, and whether that is within our country or halfway around the world, we will likely connect with them on a few things. Such showings would also inform us well on what to expect and how to act if we ever come across such people or communities.
Ultimately, journalism informs.
This information could be light, for purposes like entertainment. Blind Journey: A Journalist’s Memoirs by Jack Hawn would be a good read to see how a sports and entertainment journalist can make a great impact on the world, and it is just as important to cover the world of pop culture. But the information can also be heavy. It can open your eyes to the harsh realities of injustices befalling others and even you by your very own government. It is an instrument of truth, and it works both ways. Through it, you can hear, and through it, you can voice out your concerns and ask questions.