Extra! Extra! Won’t you read about it? In a time where most Americans get their news from social media, cable news, and SNL, the newspaper business has found itself in a tough position. Gone are the days when small town, mom and pop shop newspapers were able to publish the news their way, instead many of these smaller organizations were bought up by bigger corporations. In an effort to fight back, some of the remaining small(er) town newspapers turn to what has been dubbed “hyper-local” news, where instead of finding out how the Broncos fared, you’ll read about your local high school’s team.
Alex Jones, a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air segment, said that moves like that are what’s threatening local news. Not to say that high school football stats aren’t important, but they certainly are less important that some of the investigative and even personal journalism that was done in the 80s and 90s. He also brought up the fact that local papers have been relying on information outlets like the Associated Press and Reuters for national and international news, another disappointment compared to the personal reporting of bygone days. He argues that when these mom and pop shop newspapers are bought by larger entities, they lose some of what it means to do journalistic reporting. Surprisingly, he says that cable news does the same thing, very little of the news reported is done by the anchors who present it, instead it is done by other journalists—this creates the issue that people don’t actually know where their news is coming from.
This idea of cable news lends to a New York Times article about the persecution of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Rosen, along with New York Times journalist James Risen, were seen as co-conspirators for asking about classified information. What’s the big deal about that? The government didn’t like it! Risen was investigated for years, under both the Bush and Obama administration, being subject to court trials due to the fact that he would not reveal his sources for an expose. This brought up the question of should journalists have to reveal their sources—bottom line, the answer is no. If they were mandated to do so, their job of being the “Fourth Estate” of our government would be even more difficult than it is now.
Why is this watchdog job difficult? Between limited finances and resources in addition to the roadblocks that many journalists find themselves against, it’s difficult to effectively report on the government and even the public. The public doesn’t want to have to pay for online subscriptions to national (and generally more credible) news organizations when they can find cheaper and possibly more accessible stories while scrolling through Facebook. Not to mention the fact that the public seems far more interested in opinion journalism rather than real, hard hitting news stories, but those are just my thoughts. The news and the journalists who write it have to remember their first obligation (the truth) must be shared with its first loyalty (the citizens) no matter what.