Is American journalism collapsing before our eyes, as one recent, widely-discussed article argues? If so, it’s alarming proposition, not only for journalism of course but also the American public which traditionally has depended on journalists to provide the news, facts, and analysis that allows citizens to make reasonably-informed judgments about the state of their country’s affairs.
With this as background, veteran journalist Christopher Caldwell examines the critical role journalism plays in our democracy in greater depth, in a specially designated chapter in AEI’s new volume, “The Professions and Civic Life.”
Journalism naturally has an intimate relationship to citizenship: It exists to help citizens understand the society around them well enough to act responsibly in it, Caldwell argues. Journalism is thus about more than politics, just as politics is only a limited part of life. “But the virtues and purposes of journalism are indeed most visible when the subject is politics. The more imperiled ordinary politics is, the more important the role of the journalist become.” When well practiced, Caldwell demonstrates, even in free countries and in prosperous times, journalism requires the two great virtues of the citizen: honesty and courage.
“The basic problem that brings mass journalism into being is that political democracy and technological complexity mix poorly.”
But, there are threats to understanding and practicing journalism in this way, which are further complicated by the fact that, although our world grows more networked and complicated, we claim to want our political life to be more democratic and answerable to the public.
“The basic problem that brings mass journalism into being is that political democracy and technological complexity mix poorly.” The rise of mass journalism especially in the wake of the internet has sped up the transition from journalism being thought of as instruction by its practitioners as instruction …read more
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