I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how little journalism has changed since its inception. Articles are written, the news is conveyed, and we move on to the next assignment. There’s very little we do differently right now, although the tools for how we convey news have raced ahead at the speed of light. Publishing news online can feel like we’re keeping up with the demand for change but in reality, this just isn’t enough anymore. Many fields have advanced with the new technology available. Medical advances make things we did ten years ago look archaic, but journalism has hit a standstill. I think this is a problem, and I want to be part of the solution.
We’ve reached a point in society where journalists now need to move forward and embrace advances that are not being fully utilized right now. It’s no longer enough to write a beautifully worded op-ed and hope the readers understand your point. Adding a comment section to your online content and then never reading it is a cop-out. We are in an age where facts and figures can be verified in an instant, making transparency a key step in advancing what we do, and how we interact with our readers. The way readers consume news has changed. We live in an era where reporting news events happens almost immediately. If there’s a mass shooting it’s trending on Twitter within minutes. Sometimes Twitter knows more than people on the scene because that’s just how quickly we can get information now. People want answers. The tension between mainstream media and consumers has reached a breaking point and people want more. I want more. I want to move beyond a journalistic standpoint that isolates the vast majority of people because of biases that cater only to the very extremes of either side of an issue. Most of us do not fall into extreme liberalism or extreme conservatism, but right now those are the groups being served news and opinions on a silver platter. For everyone who falls somewhere in the middle, this is disheartening. Where the minority is feeling heard, the majority is becoming frustrated and disenfranchised. Our country cannot afford to force people into complacency because they feel like the news is not being written for them. Now is the time to take action and make sure we aren’t losing readers because we’ve lost touch with how those readers get their information.
Many of us find it exhausting to read article after article and still have to fact check because we want to make sure we stay informed and are making accurate decisions. Decisions based on factual information and not party lines. Is it too much to ask those writing the article to connect with us? The answer really needs to be that it is not too much to ask. When a writer publishes a piece that leaves us with more questions than answers, their job shouldn’t be counted as done. That’s not how this works anymore. Avid news readers are smarter than ever, asking all the right questions, and too often are not getting any of the right answers. I want to be a journalist that is part of changing this. I want to be a journalist who can discuss what I’ve researched, written, and published. The key word here needs to be “discuss” because argumentative and defensive answers get us nowhere. These things are not going to move us forward and being at a standstill at this point in our current climate could be detrimental.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of politics, I think we all know there’s too much at risk to stay uninformed. We need to make staying informed easier, more accessible, and we as journalists can facilitate that change. We must facilitate that change. We must push past old bad habits and be willing to step up. Journalism cannot be a one and done situation anymore. We need to be the ones to show up early and stay late, metaphorically and sometimes literally.
21st-century journalism means interacting with those reading what you have to say. It means those of us who fall somewhere in the demographic that distrusts both Fox News and CNN need to be heard. We are neither side of the extreme and we are the majority. We deserve better. I want to prove we can give you better. I want to move beyond cries of “fake news” and be able to have conversations with readers when there are questions about facts, figures, or opinions I’ve written about. It’s time for us as writers to embrace the fact that our readers can contact us instantly through social media. We’re no longer a name on a piece of paper that doesn’t have to answer for what we’ve said. This isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean we have to give up any semblance of privacy. It just means we’re doing a job that requires a very high standard of personal accountability. Journalists have a unique position in our world because people look to the news to make decisions. We now need to take that position of responsibility more seriously than we ever have.
Being accessible is a great thing because that’s what is going to make us better. It’s what is going to make us work harder to stay informed. It’s what is going to be the new gold standard for journalistic integrity. If writers and reporters are unwilling to discuss the things they’ve said or written, they’re the ones that are going to find they get left behind. Progress needs to be made. Many of us are ready to push forward and make that progress our focus and reason for being in this field. This truly is what journalism is going to mean now. Transparency, accountability, and interaction. Hiding behind a newspaper isn’t an option anymore, and I’m here for it. I’m ready to make this change, and I’m excited to see where it will take us.