Journalism Matters and Is Essential for Democracy


The First Amendment is arguably the most important freedom for United States citizens. Few countries grant this right to citizens, but the First Amendment is so much more than free speech. Smart, fair, independent journalism is essential for a democracy to function well. Journalism is that part of communication that keeps society informed of the changing events, issues, and appeals in the world outside. Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is a utility to empower the uninformed. This is why journalism matters and is essential for democracy.

The First Amendment is pertinent to our nation’s democracy. The press aids this liberty with the right to free expression. Without it, people would not have the freedom to air their voices and discuss certain things. Journalism matters because democracy is important to our country. The people we have chosen to elect made it so that “we the people” can have a say in this country as well as those who are in charge without repercussion. Due to the First Amendment, people have not only been able to express their opinions but also stand up, or kneel, for what they believe in.

Journalists are not simply writers, editors, and news anchors. Being a journalist means being an invisible fourth branch of the government. This matters because the Founding Fathers created the First Amendment in order to protect the press against tyranny. Journalists are a type of watchdog for society who informs the public. It requires a great devotion to truth and civic duty.

Journalism matters because it provides citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their government, society, community and overall lives. It gives citizens the information needed to be self-governing, well-informed, and free. When speaking of the press, Thomas Jefferson penned these words:

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Organizations such as The News School (TNS) give a voice to teens who are interested in building important skills like critical thinking, interviewing, writing and researching. Not only do they learn a great deal about their community, they also experience a host of self-discovery. TNS publishes each student’s articles and in turn, gives their voice a platform, while fueling increased levels of confidence.

In a democratic society like ours, we tend to take the media and the news business for granted. Possibly, due to the influx of social media, the online world is inundated with communication. However, the majority of this chatter is pointless babble and has nothing to do with the press. Journalism matters because of the value it offers. The significance it offers flows from a unique purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions. Its practices, the most important of which is a systematic process – a discipline of verification – that journalists use to find not just the facts, but also the “truth about the facts.”

Ongoing news plays a critical function in the social order by conveying information to citizens, keeping those in power accountable, but above all by keeping people connected to each other. At The News School, we work to support building inclusive and engaged communities where students can connect with each other and participate in civil society and the democratic process. In order to live in communities where people engage in political activity, build relationships of shared responsibility and trust our institutions, journalism matters.

That is why the press matters. To hear, know, be heard, and be known, is incredibly powerful and empowering. It brings us together, even when what we have to say does not align. It allows us to think, create, and progress, even when visions differ. Journalism inspires discussions, even if they end in a debate. The free press is important to a functioning democracy.  Also known as the fourth estate, it has the power to change the world. There are few moments in time more innovative, entrepreneurial, and exciting than right now in the world of broadcast writing.

To ensure there is a chance for civil advocacy, it is important that citizens are informed of choices when they are being prepared. Journalism, who, what, when, where, why and how, conveys information that is major to the democratic decision-making system. This art of communication brings transparency into society and for its part makes sure that the made decisions go along with the people’s sense of justice. In other words, the mission of journalists is to oversee the work of government officials on behalf of the citizens.journalism

Society would be in almost total disarray without the world of journalism. Today, people’s consumption of media is not consistent. Instead, the people tend to collect information from a wide variety of sources such as social media, movies, books, family, and friends. However, Journalism has a unique way of reaching across these other sources to merge the information together.

Journalism, whether directly or indirectly, touches every part of our lives. It influences all of who we are and what we do as a society. That is why ever-larger news events are needed to affect people collectively. Assassinations, wars, and acts of terrorism feel like turning points in history largely because of their wide news coverage.

Journalism matters.  Not only does it affect us personally, but it has a profound effect on the society we live in such arenas as economics, politics and socially. It determines how we see ourselves within the world at large and how we share that environment with others. This impactful exchange of facts, ideas, and opinions cannot take place without journalists. In other words, good journalism interprets the world.

Certain keys such as the concepts of honesty, objectivity, persistence, and competition govern the culture of journalism. Journalists must approach their jobs with an honest frame of mind, and the understanding of what they do is public service rather than just a way of making money. Journalism brings the events close to people’s everyday lives and, in turn, reveals what kind of an impact they have on the life of regular citizens.

Why does journalism matter? Few jobs influence the continuation of our democracy more than that of a journalist. Journalism has consistently been a guiding post through memorialized events including Vietnam, the civil rights era, Watergate, and presidential elections, etc. Where would society be without it? Although highly criticized, the overwhelming majority of Americans still value what journalism brings to the world. Journalism matters!

We, as citizens, would not have any facts about current events all around the globe without journalism. The bias standpoint of some news outlets is still crucial and important to the overall standpoint of journalism, because it shows insight to different opinions that people have, whether it be on politics, the environment, or other social aspects. The audience gets to choose their standpoint at the end of the day, and news broadcasting gives us the freedom to do so. No matter how you slice it, journalism matters and is essential to democracy.

Editorial by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


The University of Chicago: Amendment I (Speech and Press)
The Daily:  Why Journalism Matters: Because your voice does
American Press Institute: What is the purpose of journalism?

Image Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Staci Baird’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Tony Webster’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Paille’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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