Journalism’s Purpose in a Free Society
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Journalism’s Purpose in a Free Society

The legacy media ranging from cable news to print newspaper has in many ways turned off many Americans from the news. The era in which your regular consumer imagined that the press was objective and unbiased has come and gone some will say, but I’d argue that era only existed in our mired imagination masquerading as a memory.

The media has, and always will be biased, slanted, and unobjective, but even biased media has a place in a free society.

Legendary outlaw journalist Hunter S. Thompson knew as far back as 1972 that anyone in media pretending to be objective was simply trying to make themselves appear more righteous than the rest. In his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72, Thompson wrote “So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here–not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of.

With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.” The question left to be raised is if no journalism can be accomplished without bias or slant? Can it be true journalism? Can it be done for the benefit of all mankind or simply the preferred audience of the writer?

In many countries outside of the United States, journalism is a dangerous field of work. Journalists are often blackmailed, beaten, or even murdered for simply investigating to find the truth of a matter. All journalism, at its core, is meant to shed light on areas of your life and the world around you that wouldn’t typically find its way into a regular conversation.

While much of today’s media landscape has focused on the politics of personal destruction, clickbait, and over-exaggerated tabloids, the true purpose of journalism down to its core has been to expose fraud, waste, abuse, and injustice.

Even in today’s day in age, the left-wing media needs the right-wing media, and vice versa, in order to keep each other balanced. From investigating corrupt business dealings to government injustices, the role of a journalist in a free society is to act as a watchdog on consolidated power and act as an alarm for the people.

The issue at hand is that journalists provide a public service, yet are competing in an environment where their work is drowned out by the need to compete for clicks and ratings. True investigative journalism takes time, effort, and resources that in some cases don’t find the results that were expected and for that reason, big publishers don’t want to invest in something that might not bring them exactly what they want in order to get a positive return on investment. Instead, many so-called “journalists” today never leave their offices, and simply search the internet so they can summarize and reword the work of someone else.

There is hope, however, and the market provides. The age of the internet has given true independent journalists the opportunity to find their own audience and voice, and use resources such as Kickstarter and Patreon in order to finance their day to day lives and projects.

While the legacy media is seeing a purge as many writers are laid off, the era for independent journalists seems to be in bloom as consumers on the left and right side of the political aisle are individual supporting journalists they might not agree with on every issue, but know they report the facts in the best way possible.

The American people might be losing faith in the media, but the people still have faith that the intentions of many journalists are to be the watchdogs’ society needs to remain free.

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