Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Journalisms' New Threats

Jillian Kata

Throughout history, the biggest threat to the First Amendment and journalism was the possibility of too much government control.  As citizens of a democracy, we feared that the government could suppress the truth from us by dictating what could be said, or not said, in the media. This issue is referenced throughout the Knowlton and Reader article, Moral Reasons for Journalists, as they discussed the history of journalism into the development of modern day journalism.  Overtime, laws have developed in order to compromise this issue. Although there are still Supreme Court cases assessing and maintaining this division between free speech and government regulations, the true threat to journalism has shifted.

Now independent journalism faces the danger of corporatism.  Today, large corporations own almost all of the top news and information companies.  This is a problem because now they have the ability to control what may or may not be said in the media. In Moral Reasons for Journalists, the authors reference Disney and its ownership over ABC.  Not only is this a huge threat to news journalism, but now, advertising is being integrated into news stories. This new form of content creation is called native advertising.  Companies design ads that look and read like news stories.  The information is fact and truthful, but it’s manipulated, and never the less, it’s main purpose is still advertising and NOT informing an audience.  In the YouTube video by John Oliver below, he goes into detail about why this new form of advertising is so threating to journalism and its perception toward the public.

So if this is such a large threat to journalism, then why are news businesses adopting this new form of advertising? And why are they letting corporations gain control? It all comes down to one simple thing: profit.  With the recent explosion of free Internet content and social media developments over the last decade, news companies have struggled to make enough money. As John Oliver mentions in his video, “Before we demonize these organizations for selling out, it is worth remembering this is all at least partially our fault. A press can not be free and independent, if nobody is willing to pay for it”.  In other words, news companies can’t exist without profit, and if they aren’t making a profit off of consumers, they need the support of advertisements and corporations in order to continue business.

Although technology and Internet create new problems for news journalism, one thing remains true; the demand for information, more importantly accurate information, will not change. What will change in the foundation of journalism is the expectation that journalists follow a moral code. Any citizen can be a journalist and make an impact on public opinion through blogs and social media, without a degree, journalistic knowledge, or the obligation to provide the truth. Journalists must discover a way to secure their credibility and teach the public how to filter information to determine what’s the truth despite ads, the influence of corporations, and public opinion.

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