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Essay on Good Journalism and Citizenship

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The world is a hectic mess today. News is happening all around us, and the only source that acts as a filter between the chaos and ourselves is the media. The media, journalists especially, must hold upon themselves a great responsibility when they are acting as this filtering apparatus between the ordered and unordered. But is that the only thing journalism does: make sense of the news? No, it does much more than that. Good journalism is working, with help from the citizenry, to create an enlightened Republic filled with citizens who will be well informed of the events which intersect their lives. There are a number of measures, though, that journalists must take before they can go from simply making sense of the news to creating an enlightened Republic.
At the core of any republic is its citizens. They are also those to whom journalists must first be loyal (Kovach and Rosenstiel 52). What then does this mean? How are journalists supposed to make citizens their number one loyalty? The First Amendment allows the press a certain freedom from government control. This is because, as Justice Black writes, journalists were “to serve the governed, not the governors” (New York Times Co. v. United States). In this aspect, journalists act as servants to the citizenry. However, it could be argued that their paychecks come from certain companies, and perhaps their loyalties go first to their jobs and not the citizens. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel argue against this by pointing out that "people who gather news are not like the employees of other companies. They have a social obligation that at times overrides their employers' immediate interests, and yet this obligation is the source of their employers' financial success" (53). Kovach and...


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...better, more enlightened Republic. Justice Stewart writes in New York Times Co. v. United States that "without an informed and free press there cannot be an enlightened people." and, it should be noted, without an informed and free speaking society there cannot be an enlightened press. The process is reciprocal and it is going in an upwards spiral towards greater truth. Hopefully this spiral will not act as a Tower of Babel of sorts where absolute truth is ultimately lost only after it is finally found and achieved. However, this outcome is highly doubtful: a truly enlightened people will find one way or another to stabilize their tower.


Works Cited

Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. The Elements of Journalism. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007.
Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974).
New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971).


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