With All the Advancements in Technology, Do We Still Need Journalists?

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As time goes on, certain trends and items go out of fashion: jukeboxes in the 50s, platform shoes in the 60s, Pet Rocks in the 70s. In the year 2014, the question is, “Do we still need journalist?” I believe instead of placing a higher value on journalists versus leakers, our society needs to embrace both channels for information by realizing the values both present.
So, why do we need journalists in a day and age when anyone with a smartphone is a photographer and anyone with a computer can be a blogger? As can be seen with Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, there are situations where leakers need a reliable medium to transmit their information. Daniel Ellsberg shared the Pentagon Papers with the New York Times, the Washington Post, among other print publications. Edward Snowden shared the information he gathered with the Guardian. Why couldn’t they just act alone, without the support of a news corporation? One reason is that submitting raw data to the masses may have a less significant impact than wanted. As a leaker, if you believe information you have should be known by the majority, then that information should be accessible and understandable by your target audience. This is where the need for journalists can be seen because journalists have access to the audience that leakers want to reach. Besides big news corporations making bigger ripples, journalists are also protected by the Freedom of the Press. Now, the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press apply to all people, but when whistleblowers are involved, things seem to get murky. If Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden are viewed through the lense of “press”, then there is no question that they are protected for releasing the information they had acces...

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... they are above the law, unpatriotic, and thieves. Whether or not these claims are true, what’s impactful is what they do. It’s true that Snowden is no longer in the US to avoid receiving his sentence, but what he has done here is made the Obama administration reconsider its stance on this NSA dragnet, mass surveillance. That’s why leakers are necessary: they are capable of providing insight to what’s going on behind doors; they are able to enlighten those who otherwise may not be aware.
During the period of the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers, Justice William Douglas stated, “Secrecy in government is fundamentally anti-democratic...Open debate and discussion of public issues are vital to our national health”. In order for our nation to thrive and the people to stay informed, both journalists and leakers must raise the veil of secrecy and help uncover the truth.

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