The Internet has changed the way that news is presented. Gone are the days of three major network television stations and city newspapers. Unfortunately, along with the change in the press landscape, objectivity in journalism has all but disappeared. Viewers and readers want passion and opinions instead of dry emotionless facts and there are no shortage of television channels and websites to provide a platform for every point of view imaginable.
Because of this fundamental shift in journalism away from objectivity to opinion, I believe the press has a new and important agenda. I think we should take "opinion" journalism one-step further from a mere point of view to practical application. We can argue and wax eloquently on our opinions of the problems or we can get out of our heads and into action and enact some change in this limping to its death, nation.
After reading several articles on "opinion" vs. "objectivity" journalism, the one that resonated with me the most was the Columbia Journalism Review's "Take a Stand" piece, written by Brent Cunningham. It truly encapsulates how I feel about the direction journalism should be taking.
Brent Cunningham urges journalists to empower and lead the public in conversation, in an effort to reach solutions that will benefit the common good. Isn't that what a democracy is all about?
I believe that journalists like myself have an obligation to shine a light on some very dark areas of our society and push for policy change as well as inspire our communities to make the world a better place. Brent talks about the need for journalists to connect.
"It needs to engage with the public broadly and persistently to be on the public's side in an obvious and fundamental way."
He cited Hurricane Katrina in his article as a prime example of the press not engaging with the American people to start a much-needed conversation about poverty and infrastructure problems in our nation. We gave our opinions on FEMA but we didn't discuss the societal issues that really matter.
Yale columnist Robert Shiller wrote in September 2008 in the Washington Post, "Whenever the public endures a crisis, ordinary citizens start to wonder how and whether-our institutions really work. We no longer take things for granted. It is only then that real change becomes possible."
The American public has been bombarded with catastrophe and failing banks and other major institutional systems for years now. It was only until recently with the Sandy Hook shooting that a conversation about gun control and mental illness occurred. Does it really take a tragedy like Sandy Hook to spark such debate?
I don't know about you but I'm traumatized from all of the horrific natural and unnatural events that have ravaged this country in recent years. We don't have the time to be opinionated. I propose we get into action, moving away from the common opinion to that of the common good.