Two articles worth noting.
One that screams that community journalism matters and another pile of dreck from Open Democracy lamenting there is a crisis in democracy and one in journalism, with very empty and vague solutions about “rigours”.
Community journalism — the way it was done, actually never did matter. There was too much puffery and fawning and not enough hard investigative news. When I was a j-school student, I stood in the corridors of City Hall and saw the woman councilmen were having an affair with.
Journalists pointed her out and all of the politicians who not only had a fling with her, but then gave her some patronage appointment.
They shouldn’t have told me. I should have read it or heard it on the news.
There is no transparency. We don’t question basic things, such as how much of our privacy is invaded by local government. Or if there are lobbyists and payola tainting their decisions. We don’t know how many of their relatives get jobs there…or pretty much everything else. What do we know about the local inspectors, for instance? How well-trained are their workers?
That’s when local journalism would have mattered.
The Open Democracy piece is shrill and paranoid babble — a whole lot of doublespeak and vague terms that disguise a temper tantrum because journalists have no power and respect. If democracy is in peril, thank journalists who were too busy covering too much safe and easy dreck instead of hard news that mattered.
For instance, do we know how easy it is for cults to recruit university students who are lonely and away from home? Do we know exactly how may women actually need to be removed from an abusive home? Do we know how many companies in our area are opening, and how many are closing?
No. You don’t know, but I bet you know they’re bringing back Murphy Brown!
That’s right: you’re ignorant.
Now how did that happen in a democracy?
Here you are, holding a god phone or glued to your Apple laptop at Starbucks, staring deep into the screen, pointing and clicking…
And what is it that you know that you can use right now?
Do you know if you qualify for any government funding?
Do you know where your garbage goes when you spend all that time separating it? (Hint: if you have ever gone to a commercial dump, there is a very good chance that you’ll feel like an idiot).
All the things you don’t know.
Democracy has a single fuel: knowledge.
Journalism always banked on having a near monopoly and believing people would go to them.
Until social media broke that monopoly.
And the sky didn’t fall when citizens became increasingly ignorant of reality.
No, but the ground slowly eroded.
And now journalism cannot fix itself.
And people who know nothing about it and proffering disastrous solutions, while still trying to convince people they are an essential service.
Journalism has too much to answer for, and for a new system to replace it, it has to learn the lessons of the past to make for a stronger future.