(to defeat the huns…) yep, the song from Mulan just popped into my head and now i’m distracted. but now it’s really time for the main event: JOURNALISM, THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND DEMOCRACY!! (you’re excited, I know)
My definition of journalism is reporting daily events in a way that strives to be true and objective. Today, journalists use a model known as public, or civic, journalism in which they aim to solve community problems by reporting the issues and suggesting an absolution. Now more than ever we are at an all-time high when it comes to the accessibility and amount of information. media is coming at us from all directions and outlets including TV, magazines, newspapers, internet and many more. and although this may seem convenient, it has lead society down a scary road of mud-slinging campaigns and absurdities that the media tries to pass off as fact.
Democracy is a form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It allows each one of us to have a voice and celebrate our freedom. Journalism enables and expands democracy by giving a voice to the voiceless. It allows us to know what is going on not only in our backyard but across the country and across the globe. It keeps us informed on what is working and where humanity is falling apart.
A famous debate regarding the public’s ability to govern itself is that between Walter Lippmann and John Dewey (not like the dewey decimal system…i checked). In his book, “Public Opinion,” (1922) Lippmann suggested that he had no faith in a democracy in which people had the power. He didn’t trust the originality of public opinion because he believed that it was shaped by public leaders. Dewey responded to Lippmann’s book five years later with his own literature entitled “The Public and its Problems.” Dewey’s argument was that once relevant facts are made public, the role of discussion is to determine the exact nature of the common good in that particular situation. Dewey had great faith in public’s ability to learn how to govern itself, yet Lippmann was skeptical of the public’s policy-making ability.
The first amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Because I aspire to be a journalist and because I’m an American, every single one of these protections is important to my life. I practice my religion when and how I want without government interference, I have the ability to post this blog for anyone with internet access to read because of my freedom of speech, and I am currently in the seemingly never-ending process of drafting a bill to be lobbied in Congress, which I can do because of my ability to petition the Government. Without these rights I would be among the voiceless, without these rights, I would be among the shadows of ideas that are never born because government oppression aborts them.
Although I believe that my own thoughts, ideas, views, and opinions are important, I also value exposure to those different from my own. Diversity of thought allows me to think about things I wouldn’t have otherwise. It allows me to see things from someone else’s perspective and shape my own opinions accordingly. Diversity expands my ideas and makes me grow as a student, an artist, and a person. Democracy needs diversity because without it we would have a dictatorship: one person leading everyone else on a single, uniform train of thought of which everyone was a passenger heading in the same direction.
Journalists and the first amendment ensure that people hear diverse voices by providing the truth. This statement can be tricky because as an experienced professor once told us, there are 3 dimensions of truth: the historical perspective, what someone says, and what actually happened. these three aspects alone provide us with diversity of thought because very rarely do they align. In the media today we see diversity by way of interviews, different reporters and stations covering the same story, and personal interpretation.
Although politics bore me I paid very close attention to the recent midterm election; the kentucky races for Senate, House, and Lexington Mayor in particular. I made my initial decisions on which candidates i liked and using local newspapers and web pages I changed my mind again and again. Journalism played a huge part in my process of coming to public judgment for this year’s midterm election. Different newspapers presents stories and candidates differently and although much of it wasn’t true, I finally made up my mind on which candidates I would elect.
If by any chance anyone made it this far besides my jou 101 TA who has to read this, thank you. It means a lot to me that you would take time out of what i am SURE is a very busy schedule to read about what I have to say. unfortunately i don’t think readers can leave comments on this blog sit but if you read this far i am very grateful and i would love to hear your comments on anything and everything i said here. i’m on facebook: lindsey austin. so find me and send me a message!!
thanks again for reading!