Civics: There’s no such thing as a former journalist

Roy Peter Clark:

This sense of atrophy is one way that individuals experience the larger existential crises facing journalism. As an enterprise, journalism has suffered the devastating loss of resources from the collapse of its business model — money from advertising — magnified by the disruption of the internet and the growth of social media.

Who will pay for quality journalism in the future? Many experiments are underway, but no one has the answer. The loss of news and editorial power has left communities — whole states — under-covered, depriving citizens of the information they need to make good decisions about their lives. Some locations are so depleted they have been tagged as news deserts.

But that is just the half of it. The other half of the existential crisis involves vicious attempts to decertify the press, to dismiss it as biased and unethical, to transform its reputation from that of responsible watchdog to enemy of the people. The act of blaming the messenger for the delivery of bad news is ancient, but in the modern world its effect has been to make the practice of journalism more disheartening and at times dangerous.