The Sciences

The Value of Journalism

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApr 9, 2009 12:13 PM

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As the newspaper industry continues to crumble all around us, as papers continue to slash staff and/or close down entirely, the burning question remains: During the time it takes to create a new sustainable model, who will cover your community, your local government, the people that fall between the cracks of society, the agencies and institutions that form the fabric of your world? I'm not big on blind faith. Citizen journalism, like blogs, will (and should be) part of the new media landscape, but neither of them is a replacement, for obvious reasons. So in the meantime, as I discussed here, what's wrong with a government bailout as a stopgap solution? Rosa Brooks, in her final article for the Los Angeles Times, offers a compelling rationale:

If we're willing to use taxpayer money to build roads, pay teachers and maintain a military; if we're willing to bail out banks and insurance companies and failing automakers, we should be willing to part with some public funds to keep journalism alive too.

What's that, you're not convinced that the crisis in journalism is as alarming as the economic one? Check out this assessment from John Nichols and Robert McChesney in The Nation:

So this is where we stand: much of local and state government, whole federal departments and agencies, American activities around the world, the world itself--vast areas of great public concern--are either neglected or on the verge of neglect. Politicians and administrators will work increasingly without independent scrutiny and without public accountability. We are entering historically uncharted territory in America, a country that from its founding has valued the press not merely as a watchdog but as the essential nurturer of an informed citizenry.

It's a must-read piece on many levels, not least because the authors put forward some interesting interim solutions that involve government intervention.

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