Journalism will always be a necessity


Photo by Yousuf El-Jayyousi

Katie Whaley

Naturally, we don’t like pushy people; they can be too invasive and demanding, and they bear an onerous persona that may leave others feeling like they’re suffocating. Unfortunately, the public tends to cast this negative view on journalists, as reporters come off as pushy people whenever they’re neck deep in a story and pressing potential sources for quick interviews. The public is not technically wrong. Journalists, even student journalists, can be pushy; however, we are pushy for good reason.
In recent years, the public’s opinion of journalism has turned sour and society depends less on news outlets and newspapers for information, instead, relying on social media and hashtags update them. With phrases like “fake news” and “yellow journalism” becoming more prevalent and accepted as fact, it’s understandable why the populace would turn away from news outlets, as they have never seemed so unreliable and unnecessary.
But that claim just isn’t true.
There have been innumerable times when journalists have saved the day; when a reporter or a publication has released articles disclosing horrendous secrets, disbanding false rumors, unearthing illicit activities, explaining complex social and political issues and reporting on events and catastrophes that the public would otherwise ignore or be unaware of. Journalistic writing has always been imperative in spreading the truth and shining the light on victims in times of adversity.
The public needs to understand that, regardless of the current animosity toward news outlets, people need news publications in order to keep their society moral and to expose anyone who threatens moral.
Perhaps the most renowned pieces of investigative journalism that proves the art’s significance is the Washington Post’s reporting of the Watergate Scandal. Two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein took on the Watergate story, which, at first, was just an instance where five men tied to President Richard Nixon had wiretapped a Democratic meeting during the election season of 1972. But as Woodward and Bernstein talked to more informed sources and dug deeper into researching Nixon, they found there were a lot more illicit activities going on in Nixon’s campaigning party, including burglary, secret funds, spying and sabotage.
These articles exposing Nixon for participating in illegal activities went ignored and even criticized for almost two years as the populace re-elected Nixon into presidential office, ignorant of the truth of his and other officials’ wrongdoings. The writers continued thoroughly researching and reporting on into the president until after his resignation, which took place two months after the release of All the President’s Men, a novel following Woodward and Bernstein as they uncovered secrets of the White House
All the Post’s findings on Nixon and Watergate were vindicated not long after the book was issued. Because of Woodward and Bernstein’s extensive and factual coverage on Nixon’s legitimately, people knew what was genuinely happening in the White House and with the Nixon campaign, and it provided informed and precise information for the public’s consumption when the White House might not have been as honest. Journalism was significant during the Watergate Scandal, as it was the main source that gave transparent clarity to the public of the government officials’ participation in criminal endeavors.
News outlets uncovering corrupt behavior in politics spans so much further than Watergate. There are reporters right now investigating President Donald Trump’s suspicious connections with Russia, looking into allegations of blackmail and potential sexual harassment with Missouri governor Eric Greitens and inquiring why the United States government shutdown in mid-January. Without journalists pushing for these stories and urging people to talk about them, everyday people would be unaware of these things taking place at all.
Foreign conflict:
Further than that, journalism proves essential when it comes to educating about and reporting on foreign issues, catastrophes and priorly unknown problems. Unless one has a friend living in an affected area or officials the U.S. government discuss it, the main way one hears about conflict stirring in other countries is through news outlets. Journalists will go into other nations in times of war, peril and disaster in order to tell the stories of those who are suffering and any injustices the people might be facing.
One photographer, Erin Grace, talked about her experiences documenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how she chose to go out with the battle squads, where she was at risk to bombs and gunfire, in order to capture the best pictures to tell the soldiers’ stories. So many other journalists take on similar dangers; Courage in Journalism Award and Hellman-Hammet award winner Asmaa al-Ghoul was beaten and received death threats while uncovering human rights violations in Gaza, distinguished American journalist Anderson Cooper became a household name after his poignant coverage of the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the famine in Somalia, and a Spanish journalist, under the pseudonym Antonio Salas, infiltrated and exposed a neo-Nazi group in Europe and two women trafficking organizations, working undercover for eight years. There are a plethora of reporters and photojournalists in the Middle East capturing the events of the Iraq war and Syrian civil war, more covering the war in Afghanistan and Hati and much more exposing horrible Indonesian factory conditions.
No other occupation calls for something like this; no one else in the world dives headfirst into a war-torn nation to take pictures of the devastation occuring or travels internationally to bring to light unethical child labor and underpaid workers. Journalists put themselves into grave danger and risk their lives in order to tell the hardships of others and unmask misbehavior. Without them reporting on foreign conflict, fewer people would be knowledgeable or aware that these events are taking place.
Certainly student journalists don’t go to these extremities to get stories or write about wars, but they still hold meaning too. Students at Pittsburg High School in Kansas scrutinized the credentials of their new principal, leading to an investigation that ended up exposing the principal for lying on her resume. Another student in Pennsylvania told a powerful narrative on teen suicide, creating a compelling article highlighting the devastating research and emotional article that won him the JEA Impact Award. Student journalists, though not writing about national crises, have a huge impact on the community in which they live in.
Although, people consider themselves knowledgeable about politics, disasters and other issues through their social media platforms. They think because they can see live tweets and images from events that they are completely knowledgeable on the topic. That notion is false. There are too many misunderstandings and false rumors on social media platforms that don’t exist or happen in articles with reliable sources. Journalism is a necessity for that reason; it prevents the spreading of untrue facts and allows viewers to read a straightforward and detailed article about an event. Without journalism in this age of technology, there would only be untrustworthy rumors and unjustifiable accounts of events spread over social media.
Journalism is crucial when it comes to finding the truth about organizations and telling the stories of victims. Society may not feel its significance right now, but, in time, journalists will show their significance again by pushing their way into another story and unmasking truth for everyone to bear witness.