Freedom of the press is the idea that everyone has the right to opinion and expression without interference.
Every person, industry, and country relies on accurate and fair journalism. That isn’t to say that every person, industry, or country has access to journalism that isn’t hampered or altered for someone else’s benefit, but we should all strive to extend its reach in the best possible way.
Here are a few reasons why.
Informs the Public
There are various types of journalism; some types are more interesting than others, but it is often boring. It provides the facts without bias. The reporter is going out making a record of something to be discussed, asking the right questions, and then communicating to the reader in a clear and concise manner what they need to know so they can be informed.
That isn’t to say that journalism must be dry. Quite the opposite, in fact. Many of the biggest moments in journalism history went on to inspire documentaries, books, and movies.
But when reporting on a local PTA meeting or changes in the local bus schedule, it really only needs to let readers know a certain number of details, without color or flourish.
Regardless of the size and scope of a story, or even its dramatic nature, Journalism should always seek to inform with truth.
Sets a Standard
In journalism, there are a set of ethics that people in the industry are expected to follow. When everyone agrees to and applies these ethics in the same way, it ensures that there are fewer opportunities to mislead the public.
At the same time, laypeople can apply these same rigorous standards and expectations in our daily lives.
Whether we are writing a company report or attending a local town hall meeting, by putting ourselves in the shoes of a journalist, we can, hopefully, cut through the noise and find the truth of the matter every time, even when it is not convenient or pleasant.
Supports Free Speech
Many of a democracy’s freedoms exist because journalists are protected when they publish facts, even when those facts hurt the people in positions in power. Politicians can’t stand it when reporters ask them “gotcha” questions.
If ever those protections vanish, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever be able to hold those in positions of power accountable to the public who rely on them to represent their best interests.
It Builds Community
Whether we are talking about journalism in politics, finance, technology, or at the local level, communities of people with shared interests can come together and talk about what is going on around them or even build ideas off of the information that journalists provide.
Gives People a Voice
Journalism is also important for giving a voice to people, especially those who are underrepresented or are in difficult circumstances that would otherwise be overlooked. This can sometimes lead to radical change at the highest levels of government.
Journalism is not something that everyone experiences each day.
Research shows that most people either don’t read the news at all, or they simply read the headline. Declining readership for legacy journalism organizations, the rise of alternative news sources, and a lack of accountability for those acting maliciously put everything good about journalism at risk.
This is why it is important that we encourage people to enter the industry and to strongly uphold ethics and call out those who seek to weaken what makes journalism so important.