It’s hard to say with certainty when journalism was born. Arguably, it began when politics began, to become a watchdog over those in power. Thucydides was the first to record history, so as to keep “record of the events of mankind.”
In the United States, newspapers came along with the birth of the nation. Jefferson put it well: “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.”
Good journalists are politically free agents who record fluxes in human behavior as accurately and objectively as possible; a well-informed public is the core to a good democracy. In countries where the press is not free, journalism is merely governmental propaganda.
But lately, and in light of the Boston scandal when CNN and Reddit repeatedly reported misinformation, at one point discussing the event as “tantalizing,” I have been a bit disenchanted with journalism, wondering if perhaps the Internet is creating its very demise.
Yes, journalism has never been perfect. It was at one point created to make Hearst and Pulitzer lots of money. Only recently have these awards gained real merit. Yet, I worry that with all the social media so readily accessible, and quite frankly, addictingly accessible, that we as a society are losing the depth we once had, or maybe never had, but need. I wonder if perhaps we are no longer respecting the dedication it takes to get out and talk to someone for a story because it is significantly easier to regurgitate a Twitter feed or pick up the telephone and make a phone call.