Chapter 1 Activity 3&4-Christopher Pemberton

The activity 3 discussion is about accountability journalism and the press playing the role of the “watchdog”. In the YouTube video the journalists being interviews discussed how it is important they are not bias and that they hold people accountable for what they say as well as watch the actions they take after they say it. There was an example of an accident that happened in Boston several years ago where a piece of a tunnel fell onto a car killing the driver. It is mentioned that at the time several political leaders wanted to create a department that was responsible for inspecting tunnel integrity nationwide to help keep the citizens safe. This all sounded great and at the time when the accident was still fresh on the minds of the citizens that vote for these officials it was exactly the thing they wanted to hear. They wanted their elected officials to act. Fast forward three years after the accident in Boston, a journalist goes back and does some investigative work to see how this new department is progressing along. To is surprise nothing has happened. No action except for lip service was taken to develop any such department. So, the journalist decided to write about the inaction that the elected officials and hold them accountable for their promises.

The activity 4 discussion asks the question of if traditional journalists are fulfilling the needs of information dissemination, accountability, representation, deliberation and conflict resolution. It goes on to state how some people argue that the role is a traditional journalist has become more important while others say less important. It asks this question based on us living in an age where we can get digital delivery of news from twitter, YouTube, Facebook pages and channels created by average citizens. It is a fair question to ask and on the surface it looks as if traditional journalism is dead. I disagree with this and think that today more than anytime in our nations history the role of traditional journalism is of the utmost importance. Sure it is great that thousands of average Joes and Janes can start a blog and report the news and it can serve a purpose of informing its readers and subscribers. The problem is they are usually in their own homes trying to report on a major national or international story with zero journalistic integrity and mostly “reporting” what another outlet has reported. It is hard to trust a news source whos main goal is to get subscribers and likes on a page instead of journalistic accountability. In short, it is regurgitated and mostly inaccurate news. In the book “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technolocical Forces That Will Shape Our Future” author Kevin Kelly discusses how there will be an increase in quantity of news but a decrease in its quality. I included activity 3 into this blog post as it goes hand in hand with activity 4 as the “watchdogs” in activity 3 are one in the same as the traditional journalist in activity 4.  Ask yourself this question, “how does our society benefit if we have a plethora of media options to choose from if the overall quality and accuracy of said news lacks accountability, representation, deliberation and conflict resolution?”

Current local and national news outlets do not practice the same journalistic accountability as they did in years past. In an article I had written last year for a different course, I discussed this and discovered that there are two main reasons this has happening. News outlets are more worried about being the first to report a story even if they do not have all the details as this helps with ratings. Secondly the news has changed to more of a Jerry Springer style episode as that is what draws viewers and viewers bring advertisers that are willing to pay top dollar to put their ads on during those time slots bringing in millions of dollars in revenue for the networks annually. Trying to be the first to report on a story the media has taken out the accountability part of journalism and instead of being a sniper with a pinpoint story of facts they prefer to take a shotgun approach and hope they have something worthy in their reporting. The problem also with the advertisers is several large companies that pump millions of dollars to a media outlet also rid that outlet of accountability and integrity by threatening to pull the money if they disagree with a story that was aired as it may go against said companies beliefs. This makes it hard for the media to report with pure accountability and integrity as they have been bought and paid for.

The way to get back to journalistic accountability is to start local grassroots news that do not rely on major sponsors and are not worried about reporting on something first. They can be a local radio station, webpage, newspaper, or television outlet with the focus being localized news. When this type of reporting starts to grow it grows from the ground up. It keeps the citizens in the local area informed which in turn puts pressure on the “report first” media outlets to step up their accountability. When this happens, it helps create a stronger American republic and a more open and honest free society.

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