A while back I published the Journalist’s Creed, written in 1907 by Walter Williams, the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. It begins with the sentence “I believe in the profession of journalism.” I do, and always have, just as I believe in the profession of public relations when it is practiced with integrity.
Yet hardly a day goes by in BlogWorld when there isn’t someone saying something about the death of journalism. Mainstream media blunders, online media anarchy, newspaper payola and the scourge of ink-stained fingers. It’s enough to make you want to stick your head in the sand and never come out – or worse, become one of the millions of Americans who get their news from Fox, talk radio and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.
But alas, there is hope – at least that’s what Kpaul Mallach believes and why he has launched Journalism Hope, an online community dedicated to the idea that the best days of journalism are ahead of us. As Mallach said in his introductory post:
“Journalism is worth saving. There are money issues with some of those who own the companies, but there is hope. The paradigm is changing. I really believe that. And if it is, there are going to be those both in and out of the mainstream who help spread hope for Journalism.”
There’s no denying that the business and practice of journalism has changed, is changing, and will change considerably in the months ahead. Not only can we not deny it, we should embrace the changes with arms wide open. But in doing so, we also should not deny the contributions made by thousands of mainstream journalists for decades, who gave us the basics of fairness and accuracy and who had the passion to provide voice and context to issues large and small.
“I think there’s hope if we can concentrate on Journalism and solving the problems before us. I still believe that the new media independents are perhaps more important in this stage of the online medium’s development because of their ability to change quickly, to adapt rapidly. Again, though, there are many thousands of journalists doing things to make all journalists proud even while toiling for big media. We’re all important.”
We can’t break into camps or factions – there is enough cynicism about journalism among the public to go around. And we certainly don’t need journalists Like Steve Lopez who, in a recent NPR commentary, dismissed bloggers as “unapologetically biased hacks who haven’t left the house in five years.” Steve is a great L.A. Times columnist and an excellent reporter. Although some of his commentary was tongue-in-cheek, he should know better, and all of us need to take a deep breath and find our inner civility.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: this is the best time to be a journalist, a public relations professional, a citizen with a point of view and a desire to share it. We all matter – and if we can learn to get along and make the inevitable changes together, then there is not only hope for journalism, but for the world.