Opinion: The world is changing and we need journalism more than ever

cropped-logooption3magnified.pngOn Friday night, the entire world watched with horror as reports came in about the terrorist attacks in Paris and the world is nervously waiting for future ramifications.

According to the New York Times, 132 people died in Paris, and hundreds more are wounded. The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attack. French President François Hollande has called the attacks “an act of war.” President Obama said he would  “redouble our efforts” to fight international terrorism.

While people are trying to make sense of what is happening, journalists were staying up all night to keep us inform of the events that were unfolding.

I don’t think any journalist would try to claim journalism is perfect, but I think the average citizen take some things we do every day for granted.

For example, both the Ann Arbor News, Central Michigan Life and countless other newspapers spent their Friday night trying to confirm the people in their community at Paris were safe.

Journalists are not useful just during a tragedy either.

For example, Chad Livengood of the Detroit News spent countless hours reporting on the Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat scandal. Michigan Radio investigated the length of sexual assault investigations at Michigan State University.  Insider has spent hours looking at the budget and trying to get information from the administration on sexual assault.

Every media outlet does little acts of public service everyday. Sometimes the act is bigger than others, but if news outlets don’t exist, than none of them happen.

However, journalists are not exactly popular and our mistakes tend to get more attention than our triumphs.

A Gallup Poll shows that only 22% of people have “a great deal” or “quite a deal” of confidence in newspapers.

The missteps in journalism are well-known- Rolling Stones retracted article and Brian Williams’ tall-tales are probably the two most notorious recent examples.

Do journalists need to be better? Yes. Is the news industry going to face challenges? Yes. But should the “media” go away? No.

While sometimes our criticism is deserved, that doesn’t make us less important. Education, law enforcement and politics receive complaints, but society still needs them to function.

The world is changing. The battle against terrorism is likely to be a long and complicated battle. The discussion about curbing racism, but not infringing on the first amendment is likely going to be an on-going. As technology is constantly changing, new issues will appear.

Society needs good journalism to help make sense of the world.

Our readers shape journalism more than they realize. Every time you click or don’t click on an article may affect whether the publication will continue reporting on the topic. I think it’s unrealistic to expect for people not to watch cat videos. However, it helps if after you watch your video, you read an in-depth article the journalists spent weeks if not months putting together.

It helps when you donate to non-profit media, such as Bridge or NPR. It helps when you pay for a subscription to the New York Times.

It helps when you give your constructive criticism on social media. It helps us journalists know what you don’t understand and how we can report better. It also helps us know if we need to answer any concerns.

It also helps when we know you appreciate us staying up all night to tell you the latest in a tragedy or spent a lot of time working on a project.

The media is an easy target for politicians and anyone who doesn’t like what’s going on in the world.  But if  journalists don’t stay up to tell you the latest news, who else will?

When I went to bed, I knew that I would be starting my career to what I believe will be a new era of history. I know there will be challenges and the future is far from clear.

However, I also know that I (and the other journalism majors walking across that stage soon) are needed.

Arielle Hines is the editor of CMU Insider. You can contact her at hines1as@cmich.edu. 


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