From the day that I decided to take this “journey to journalism,” I have been asking myself, “What is the purpose of journalists and the media?” Just like my “Is it possible to be unbiased?” question, this is most likely one that I will continue learning about for the rest of my life. That said, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts that I want to share.
Obviously, journalists are there to serve the public through distributing important and relevant information. When looked at it this way, journalism could be accurately described as a service. There is no denying that through the news media, people have been able to access information from weather forecasts to traffic reports to updates during an emergency or crisis. While I might be a little biased, I think it can be argued that journalists and the information they provide make life a little easier.
However, it does not stop there. Journalism is also a business. There are salaries to be paid and other competing publications to out-do, so to speak. This is not meant to be a negative aspect of journalism because practically everything in one way or another is a business. Every industry has something that they want to sell to the public as well as its share of competitors. For the news media industry, it is important to think of ways to distribute the information in a way that is most convenient and appealing to potential viewers and readers and get it out to them before “breaking news” becomes “old news.”
So, here we have journalism as a service and journalism as a business. Where and when they both overlap in a perfect world is what I’m still trying to figure out. As with any business, sometimes news media can become corrupt and deceptive in an attempt to make one’s publication or article stand out amongst the billions of stories out there. It can become hard to draw the line between business and service as a journalist because yes, you want to serve the public (or at least, you should) but at the same time you need to think of innovative ways to present the news. This isn’t supposed to result in twisting stories to make them sound more interesting, but unfortunately, sometimes that happens.
What are your thoughts on this? What is the purpose of journalists? How can journalists be both business-minded and service-minded?