Journalists and The Public

Journalists stand in a paternalistic relationship to readers: They guide them rather than engage them in conversation. They decide on the legitimate and valuable topics for the agenda based on the estimation of the public’s need to know, but don’t see the necessity for listening to the public. (Page 18) Wahl-Jorgensen

Making news became commercially viable through the selling of audiences to advertisers, instead of newspapers to partisan audiences…The new centrality of advertising income also meant that owners and editors were compelled to abandon controversial, partisan material from their reports, and instead aimed to please as many advertisers and consumers as they possibly could by printing ostensibly “neutral” content and proclaiming their political independence.(Page 38) Wahl-Jorgensen

It may have been true in the past that journalists were having a sort of one sided conversation with the public, but with ever advancing technology this notion is getting  further and further from the truth. In particular I am talking about journalists who work through the internet. With the internet there is a more call in response approach to stories. The journalist will do their thing and put out their story. In this past it would more or less stop there. Now the public, the audience, have the opportunity to immediately respond via comment boxes. While journalists still pick the content, for the most part, there is still a lot of input from the public. Give the people what they want seems to be a popular decision nowadays. Take an unfortunate look at Fox “News.” They know their audience and they cater to them to no end. This is just one example that seems to stick a lot for me. The point is that the audience now have more say in the content of the news now then ever. One way this say comes into play is through advertising.

The audience doesn’t really control what content is deemed important enough to be news. Although in certain ways this isn’t entirely true. The audience does have a say in what they consume. It ties into the advertising aspect of media. Advertising pays for media. Without it we wouldn’t have the news. Most companies want to keep their advertisers happy. The best way to do this is to keep the audience happy. Sometimes this involves avoiding writing stories that could be controversial or somehow offensive to the target audience. This results in a watered source of news that is simply appealing to the money holders to stay afloat. In terms of journalistic integrity this isn’t our strong  suit. While the journalist may not be in control of the decision to not chase or afterwards run a story they are still letting this odd form of censorship happen. What else can they do? Lose their job. Not in today’s economy. The struggle between providing pure news and catering to advertisers and through them the public will go on to see many more days.




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