We’re told that American society has some horrors in it. This is true by the way. Further, that journalism should be reporting on all these horrors. Possibly. And then the step over the edge:
The fact that it took a pandemic, police killings and mass protests to focus mainstream journalistic attention on these issues is damning, and must prompt a reappraisal of how we work. Why weren’t newsrooms obsessing about these issues before the world imploded this spring? Why must we always be reactive to injustice, instead of proactively highlighting it? Isn’t it the job of journalism to ferret out wrongdoing even if people in power want it to remain hidden? Why aren’t we advocating for our audiences and their lives?
Because that’s not journalism. That’s politics, proselitysing, propaganda even, but it’s not journalism. One aspect of journalism being that it’s a business. This means that people must voluntarily pay for the stuff – perhaps with their attention only but definitely pay – and the number of people who will pay for this stuff is roughly equal to the subscription list of The Nation. This is not enough people for it to be viable a a general, rather than niche, business model.
The other description is possibly more cynical and yet still true. Journalism is the process of filling in the white bits between the advertisements. Which is why much journalism is about the Kardashians and not inner city poverty – more people will look at the ads.
The real problem here though is that these Americans – for of course the people making the call are Americans – are graduate degree holders who think they have entered a vocation. Sorry lads, it’s a craft. Put the words in the right order, that’s the thing, not setting the world to rights.