We, the audience, are at fault for the current climate of Journalism due to our constant craving to be entertained, rather than informed.
The biggest story of this week broke on Thursday, when Kim Kardashian decided she would flash her chest to Instagram (again). She posed, next to her famous friend Emily Ratajkowski, topless, and captioned the photo #liberated. This ‘liberating’ news has been the focal point for discussion ever since.
In other, seemingly unimportant news, there is a war in Syria, a presidential campaign in America and Australia might be going to an election very soon too. But you see this news is nowhere near as important to society. Just check your Facebook, there is no room in your news feed for ‘real’ journalism, all the room has been taken up by Kim Kardashians breasts.
Journalism was once, as Kovach and Rosensteil described, “for taking back the language from a government that had subverted it with propaganda that undermined freedom of thought”. Journalism used to be about building a sense of community through ideas and information, informing the masses on the problems of our world, imploring them to discuss and solve them. Uncensored journalism was, and still has the potential to be so powerful in shaping our reality.
Yet in the current day, Journalism is failing to impact the world in the way it should. The problem is partly due to the large scale corporations, the expansion of technology and the manipulation of reporting. But the primary reason for the ‘death of journalism’, as some call it, is us, society, it’s audience.
As a generation, we simply are more interested in being entertained rather than educated. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, 61% of people surveyed gathered news from Facebook in a given week. In separate research by the same source in June 2015, it was gathered that news consumers on Facebook, 73% of them were regularly presented with entertainment news. This led all other categories of news such as Politics (55%) and International News (39%).
This is no coincidence. We are being bombarded with this ‘news’ because we want to be. Journalist publications are noticing that Facebook is a large part of its new market, and that market simply wants click bait. Why? One could argue pessimistically that we don’t want to be informed on the climate of our world, we would prefer to be ignorant to it.
The explosion of the internet and social media, gave society the opportunity to be constantly informed on the current events of our world. It created the idea of ’24 hour news’, which promised society the ability to always be informed. Yet despite the world offering us all the power of knowledge, society has be fearful to grasp it. Living in ignorant bliss, our community is disinterested in learning about its true reality. Instead we look for stories that take us away from reality, stories that have no meaningful relevance such as gossip columns. I fear, in the words of Neil Postman, we are “amusing ourselves to death”.
By neglecting investigative, ‘boring’ journalism, Australians heed its implied constitutional right, the freedom to be informed. As a community, it is crucial that we are informed politically, or else we risk being led by a non-representative government. Without competent media we are unable to compare opinions and start discussions that would allow the public to make optimal decisions on Election Day as to who will run our country, and dictate our future. Obvious? Maybe. But it’s a possibility in today’s world if journalists continue to focus on unimportant news. Look no further than to the American Presidential Campaign, where Donald Trump has tallied so much support. The reason why a celebrity like Donald Trump can gain so much support is because of uninformed people. These people don’t understand the problems with Mr Trump’s campaign, and without second opinions that come from journalism that educates voters will fall for his preaching – and not understand how his views could cause America to crumble.
Our constant lust for entertainment is potentially destroying our future. By not being informed, we risk moving forward ignorantly. Without educational journalism we will vote for the wrong political candidates. History indeed has proven to repeat itself, and we can avoid making the same fatal mistakes socially and politically as those who came before us simply by educating ourselves through journalistic articles.
Journalism is a product, and to quote Jimmy Madden from The Daily Collegian, society “isn’t buying the right one”. Madden goes on to rightfully argue that there needs to be accountability on both sides of presenting the journalists. If people pay more attention to educating journalism, rather than entertainment journalism, advertisers will follow. It will pressure journalists to return to investigating.
There are still journalists who want to provide honest, relevant news. Their heart remains dedicated to the ‘good’ fight, but “these people need to be fed as well”. This is the struggle faced by Christina Patterson, who became a free-lance writer after losing her permanent job as a political journalist. By showing interest again in articles that raise the public discourse, society can rebuild the media.
In 2016 the media has the ability to provide important information to our community easily, effectively and constantly. Development in technology allow us to embark into the realms of the unknown, enabling us to use this knowledge to shape the world we want to live in. We need to take this opportunity to educate ourselves, so we can discuss in depth the problems and combat them in an optimum way.
In today’s world, we are obsessed with visual information, ‘highlight packages’ and summaries of events in tweet form. Society are simply just not interested in real in depth news. We instead beg to be bombarded with news about what celebrities are wearing (or in Kim Kardashian’s situation, what she’s not wearing). There remains great journalists in the field, wanting to cover the important stories, all society needs to do is become interested in what they have to say again.
We must support Journalists in, what Pope John Paul once stated, their “sacred mission” to make us less ignorant. Today’s world may be ignorant, but let’s make tomorrow’s world informed by pleading for, and then listening to the journalists who bring us real, important news.