Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Journalism: Vital to a free people

I have not, heretofore, commented on this blog about the state of journalism, the profession in which I devoted most of my adult life and in which I still have many, many friends. It should be of vital interest to all of us that journalism, and journalists, find a way out of the economic morass that has plagued the profession for several years now. The recession, or depression, hit newspapers several years ago, well before the economic crisis that is plaguing all of us. 

The health of journalism is crucial to all of us: The news we depend upon as a free people comes from courageous journalists who pound the beat in city halls, courthouses, or put themselves in harms way in the many troubled corners of this earth. So far, 135 journalists have died covering the war in Iraq, and another 51 support personnel have been killed working for news organizations. 

Journalists don't always get it right, or perfectly. Sometimes they miss the story or get an important fact wrong. But they pick themselves up every day and get back out on the pavement and do it again. Day after day. Maybe you no longer subscribe to a newspaper, but let me point out that if you are getting news from the internet, a journalist gathered that news, and more than likely a newspaper company put that journalist in the field and provided the resources for news gathering. And if you got your news off television or radio, more than likely that broadcast journalist was chasing a story that ran first in a newspaper.

There is much to criticize about journalism, and even more to criticize about the management of news organizations. There are many blogs devoted to that task, and some of them are even worth following, including the one maintained by my friend Howard Weaver, the vice president for news at the McClatchy Co. His blog is called Etaoin Shrdlu, and you will just have to go there to find out what that means (and be forewarned: journalists comment there, and the language is often salty and they don't pull their punches). 

So today I want to celebrate one positive development: the remake of the website for The Sacramento Bee, where I worked 10 years and Lori worked 20 years. The new sacbee.com is clean and inviting, the photos are spectacular, and the nuggets describing each story are helpful. Newspapers are remaking themselves into multi-media news organizations, and The Bee is getting there and deserves kudos today. Congratulations to one and all at The Bee for your thought and hard work. Oh, and if you haven't gotten a subscription to your local newspaper, go get one.


1 comment:

leany said...

According to the Health Journalism Partnership website, around the world, public health policies, attitudes on disease and disability, and health-related behaviour are greatly influenced by media coverage.