Far from being dead, journalism has never been more important
“Journalism? You know it’s basically dying right?”
“Journalism? Have you got a backup option?”
“Journalism? Good luck with that.”
These are some of the responses I have received when I tell people that I am studying journalism. Some people seem to think it is irrelevant in the modern age, a dying art that back in the 1970s and 80s served a purpose but today just churns out stories with no substance or importance and are now suffering from the consequences.
Certainly, this is the way the Morrison Government seems to treat journalism and similar careers, with the government last year announcing that many arts subjects at university would have their prices doubled, with more ‘job-ready’ courses like STEM having their prices drastically reduced (maybe the government wants less journalists around so their potentially corrupt activities can go undetected...)
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the journalism world; in certain sectors there is definitely some uncertainty about the future, and some websites and publications have had to shut down in recent years.
I’ll also be the first one to tell you that not all journalistic enterprises you see are ground-breaking and revolutionary. Some stories from the likes of A Current Affair or this story from the Daily Mail make you shake your head and realise that the satirical program Frontline actually wasn’t too far from the truth.
But does that mean we should give up on it, dismiss it and punish those who still want to pursue it? Does it mean journalism is dead?
Not by a long shot.
Journalism - whilst it may be different to what it was 20 years ago – is simply adapting to the modern world we live in. Even though hard copy newspapers are harder to come by, in their place the large newspapers worldwide are shifting online, using the internet and social media to share their stories. There has been an explosion of podcasts in the last 10 years in many different genres that have allowed journalists to experiment with new techniques and to reach new audiences.
And despite all this change and upheaval, it is dedicated journalists that have uncovered some of the biggest and most ground-breaking stories over this decade. Daniel Taylor, a journalist from the United Kingdom whilst working for The Guardian and The Observer won a Sports Journalist of the Year Award for his coverage of the shocking United Kingdom football sexual abuse scandal.
More recently and closer to home, Four Corners - with the help of News.Com political editor Samantha Maiden – helped uncover allegations of sexual assault, rape and misconduct that have been made against past and present members of parliament. Four Corners was also responsible for first documenting reports that alleged war crimes perpetrated by Australian Special Forces members took place in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
This is definitely not a new phenomenon; in fact, throughout the 20th century, it was journalists that were at the forefront of some of the largest events and scandals. The Pentagon Papers, the Panama Papers and the uncovering of the Watergate scandal were all spearheaded by determined journalists who wanted to share the truth and who wanted to hold those above us accountable for their actions.
And perhaps that is the main reason why journalism is still such a vital part of our society. Just take a look at countries without the press freedoms we enjoy, such as China, and how it allows them to exert dictatorial control over their people and to commit horrible atrocities.
It is why in this day and age – especially with the rise of ‘fake news’ and a concerning media monopoly in Australia - showing support for independent journalism is so important. We cannot let this die, not in the midst of a COVID pandemic and an impending climate crisis.
We need high quality independent journalism. It is invaluable to us. It helps bring about change and can be a real force for good.
It has never been more important than now.