OPINION: Journalism Still Plays a Critical Role in Society, Despite Shifting Media Landscapes

Photo by Filip Mishevski on Unsplash

Journalism, the cornerstone of democratic societies, plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and safeguarding democratic principles. However, many journalists find themselves in the paradoxical situation of being both underpaid and undervalued.

The Changing Media Landscape: A Blessing and a Curse 

The rapid evolution of the media landscape has had a significant impact on journalism. The advent of the internet and the rise of social media platforms come with freer information dissemination, allowing individuals to share news and opinions with ease. While this has empowered citizens, it has also led to an overwhelming abundance of information, often with varying degrees of accuracy and reliability. This information overload has inadvertently increased competition for journalists and media outlets alike, leading to a race for clicks and eyeballs. 

Advertising Revenue and the Struggle for Profitability 

The shift from print to digital media has disrupted traditional revenue streams, with print media witnessing a decline in circulation and advertising revenue. Consequently, many publications have been forced to downsize or shut down. Online journalism, while presenting new opportunities, has struggled to find a sustainable business model to generate sufficient revenue. The prevalence of ad-blockers and the dominance of tech giants like Google and Facebook in the digital advertising market have only made matters worse. As a result, media outlets have resorted to cost-cutting, often at the expense of journalists’ salaries. 

The Perception of Interchangeability and Homogeneity 

A significant factor contributing to journalism’s undervaluation is the perception that journalists have similar talking points and are often seen as interchangeable. This belief can be attributed to the rise of the 24-hour news cycle and the pressure to produce stories quickly. In some cases, this has led to an overemphasis on speed over depth, resulting in repetitive and superficial coverage. This perception of homogeneity and interchangeability undermines the public’s appreciation for the diversity and quality of journalism that exists, leading to the undervaluing of the profession. 

Why Society Should Value Journalism More 

Despite the challenges faced by journalists, the profession remains vital for several reasons: 

  • Safeguarding Democracy: Journalists play a crucial role in holding power accountable, ensuring transparency and providing unbiased information. By acting as watchdogs, investigating and reporting on issues that matter to the public, they contribute to a well-informed citizenry – the cornerstone of any healthy democracy. 
  • The Power of Investigative Journalism: Investigative journalism uncovers numerous scandals, abuses of power and corruption cases. These investigations often require significant time, resources and expertise, making them all the more valuable. Without the efforts of investigative journalists, many wrongdoings would go unnoticed, and justice would not be served. 
  • Inspiring Change Through Storytelling: Journalists possess the unique ability to tell stories that create empathy, spark conversations and inspire change. By bringing attention to critical social issues and giving a voice to the voiceless, their storytelling can lead to positive change on both individual and societal levels.