Journalism’s crucial role in helping democracy function is sometimes forgotten amid the commotion of biased debate and the messy nature of the news business. But anyone who stops to examine recent examples of journalistic success and the substantial civic impacts of various news media investigations cannot help but be impressed by the vital role of the press.
The Internet is one of the most remarkable things human beings have ever made. In terms of its impact on society, it ranks with print, the railways, the telegraph, the automobile, electric power and television. Some would compare it with print and television, the two earlier technologies that most transformed the communications environment in which people live. Yet it is potentially more powerful than both because it harnesses the intellectual leverage which print gave to mankind without being hobbled by the one-to-many nature of broadcast television. With the Internet, journalists and everyone for that matter can get the latest “news” out to the world within seconds.
The process that happens before a story is published has also been transformed. The web has become the go-to point for the globe when it comes to getting information; it's the same for reporters. Online, they find a multiplicity of perspectives and a library of available knowledge that provides the context for stories. Increasingly, the stories are coming from the web. People use the web to connect to the experience by watching it in real time on TV and then posting on message boards and forums. They post bits of information they knew themselves and aggregate it with links from elsewhere.
On the one year anniversary of this shooting, the St. Louis County executive declared a state of emergency here on Monday as officials and activists sought to regain control of the volatile streets after plainclothes police officers shot and critically wounded an 18-year-old black man who they said was firing on them late the night before.