Journalism culture must change
By Phil McMullin
The president is at war with journalists. If they disagree with his often false depiction of reality, he deems them enemies of the country and launches Twitter attacks against them.
So, it is said we need to fight for journalism now more than ever. We must not let the attacks of our leader stop us from reporting the truth.
However, President Trump is not the only one attempting to destroy the media. The media itself is deeply flawed and must change if it hopes to adapt.
Of course, there is pressure from consumers for media outlets to become more biased, more simple and more agreeable. Confirmation bias pushes readers to only click articles that will justify their firmly held beliefs, reinfo cing their world views time and time again – until the only information they receive is
the information that will make them feel comfortable and correct.
Giving into this is an effective strategy for a news industry wishing to gain the most clicks on its articles, the most shares and the most likes. But it is not what journalism is meant to be.
When articles seek to confirm the readers’ beliefs or to agree with their viewership in order to receive favor on social media, journalism suffers.
When reporters believe they have a duty to promote their own political beliefs in order to change the way society perceives events, journalism suffers.
The issue is that we are living in a society that glorifies the self righteous extremists and condemns those who take moderate positions. Our country exists in two distinct societies – the liberal and the conservative – and more and more reporters seem to be choosing sides and writing in order to appeal to one of these societies.
This is not the nature of journalism. Journalists must form a society of their own – one that promotes nothing but objective truth. No matter how boring, mundane or contrary-to-popular-belief the truth may be, journalists must report it with passion and honesty.
An argument can be made that part of the blame falls on the consumer. If nobody supports honest journalism, then honest organizations of journalists will, of course, conform to the demands of their readership.
But why become a journalist? Surely, it is not for profit. There are plenty of other less demanding, less complicated professional fields to enter that would offer much higher salaries than newspapers ever will.
No, the journalist must enter the work force knowing full well they one day must have to become martyrs for the cause of truth, instead of wealthy or politically popular.
If we are to protect journalists from President Trump, we must first protect journalists from the
demands of the marketplace. Journalists must form a culture that celebrates honesty and truth above profit and popularity. Journalism cannot be just a profession, it must also be a virtuous cause.
Journalism is not about protecting finances or advancing politics – it is about protecting the truth. If journalists in this country don’t realize this and commit to truth without restraint or hesitation, we will fail.