Society Cannot Sacrifice Journalists
The news has recently been dominated by reports of media layoffs as companies, such as Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post, reduce their staff. Journalism layoffs are not new, and this is not the first time a media organization has been forced to cut back or become bankrupt. These layoffs may just seem like part of that growing trend, the wave of media-staff reduction as the news becomes increasingly digital and requires fewer humans to produce it. Society needs to stop accepting these layoffs as routine and necessary, however, because journalism cannot be sacrificed without sacrificing the integrity and awareness of the nation.
Journalists hold everyone, especially those in power and large companies, accountable. The people with the most control over the country know someone is always watching, and that someone is the journalist. Computers and algorithms cannot do what investigative journalists can; they notice whether something is wrong, some details are amiss, or if some bit of ethics has been violated. These are the people who protect citizens by refusing to allow unethical behavior from those who guide the country, and journalists are the ones who are vehemently not silent when they see wrongdoing. Not everyone is willing to put themselves at risk to make the truth known, and society desperately needs those people. From high school to college to professional journalists, these are the people who value the truth.
Some may say that the days of hard-hitting investigative journalism are over, but it is more accurate to say that they have just changed. Investigative journalism is still as vital as it was when Woodward and Bernstein broke open a scandal that would rock the country. Journalists are still dedicated to finding and exposing the truth, and the current political climate could not be in need of someone to protect the facts and publicize the truth any more than it was when Nixon was in office. The look of investigative journalism may be different now, with Buzzfeed News as a frontrunner and the media more digital, but people still need to know the information that those in power desperately want hidden. The journalist is the person who finds this information and throws it out into the public arena for all to see.
The Washington Post’s slogan is “democracy dies in darkness.” This simple phrase epitomizes the need for journalists. With every layoff, the country becomes a little less informed as fewer people are dedicated to working for the truth. With every layoff, the light dims just a bit. Society needs this light so people are informed of events that affect them intensely but that they would never even know are occurring without someone who alerts them. Society needs this light so citizens can trust their government, knowing that journalists are watching to make sure those in power are honorable. Society needs this light to protect everyone and cannot afford the darkness of a world where no one is accountable, and the truth is hidden.