Journalism: a dying field?

The death of the free press

By Editorial Board

Fake news! A witch hunt! Liberal propaganda!

Terms such as these and more seem to be thrown around in our stormy political climate with little regard for what they are actually affecting: the extremely important field of journalism.

The ultimate protection against tyranny is freedom of information. The suppression of the media and of free speech has been a key tactic in many dictators’ consolidation of power, from Lenin to Mao.

Our founding fathers knew the power that speech has when framing our government. They knew that freedom to speak up against injustice is necessary to a free republic; that’s why the First Amendment of the United States of America created the freedom of speech that Americans have enjoyed for centuries.

The necessity for accurate and timely information is one that is perpetual. All truly democratic societies need an institution to watch out for the general good of the public and to expose anyone who intends to disrupt the welfare of the people.

Being a journalist and the commitment to protect the well-being of the public that comes with it has led many staff members on The Warrior to develop a passion for journalism and we want to pursue a future in this vital field.

But as the next generation of journalists, we are wary of the industry that we will inherit.

It is a well known fact that the field of journalism is under attack not only by claims of “fake news,” but by a changing industry landscape.

Due to the expansion of the Internet, traditional print news has gone out of style, leaving many local and national newspaper companies bankrupt.

According to Pew Research Center, weekday print circulation decreased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017, which caused the closings or mergers of many news sources around the country.

Mergings, closings and especially purchases of small news companies by media mammoths puts independent journalism at risk.

Think of it like this: if a conservative media corporation owns hundreds of local news stations across the country, they can make these smaller stations run news that benefits their company’s values and agenda.

A real life example of this is Sinclair Broadcasting, a telecommunications conglomerate that owns 191 television stations and 607 channels, according to their website.

Sinclair has taken advantage of their national influence and has at one point written a script that they required broadcasters all over the country to recite word for word on their shows. Deadspin, a popular blog, posted an edited video of all the different news stations across the country reading the same exact script word for word. Not only is this incredibly eerie, it;s threatening to our democracy.

The script discussed “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country” and said that “some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think,’” according to NPR.

While on it’s own the language of the script doesn’t seem very threatening, Sinclair is known to be a conservative company, and a lot of the rhetoric in the script seems to echo one of President Trump’s most consistent talking points — that mainstream media cannot be trusted because it is “liberal propaganda.”

Sinclair is a prime example of how the dwindling industry of journalism is a perfect target for prodigious media companies ready to use their influence to manipulate public opinion.

In addition to the diminishing independence of newspapers, news stations and other forms of media, the Internet has also changed the landscape of the journalism.

According to the Pew Research Center, 38% of Americans get their news online, compared to 20% in print.

Since such a large portion of Americans consume their news online, many well-established papers are transitioning to an online interface that allows readers to access articles online.

Although the expansion into a different sector may seem like a good thing and a sign of growth, this new platform for news has a lot of negative consequences.

The internet is rapidly changing media companies’ business models. Prior to the internet, papers would get a large sum of their revenue from subscriptions. Now, since news is readily available on the internet for free, newspapers are attempting to make up for lost revenue through advertisements and paywalls.

Because the Internet and the way it affects news companies is so new, many of these companies are having a hard time keeping up, resulting in the label of a “dying industry”.

Without smaller news companies to offer localized news, giant companies easily gain control of the American people and can subtly influence public opinion.

Additionally, the rapid pace of the Internet can also lead to an abundance of false information, or “fake news.” Anyone can misconstrue or falsify any piece of news and spread it around. This can be dangerous and even have devastating consequences.

The Warrior is not trying to change the ways of the media industry or declare any disdain for an evolving field, but it’s hard to pursue a career that we have a genuine passion for when time and time again we are warned not waste our degrees on a dying industry.

We are genuinely scared for the future without independent journalism because we aware if the devastating effects a censored world will have on politics, science and the inhabitants of our country.

We are excited to help propel the field of journalism to new heights, to fully launch and integrate even the smallest local news stations into the fast-paced world we live into.

We want to be the generation to propel a modern media industry into the future and beyond, while at the same time preserving the original principle of the field: protection against tyranny through the power of knowledge.

Editorials represent the majority view of the Editorial Board