Everywhere you look, there seems to be yet another critic analysing the dire state of journalism. There can be no doubting that the future of journalism is uncertain. In this excerpt from his book Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy, Alex Jones discusses the fate of the ‘pitted iron core’ of journalism.
In Jones’ view, the ‘iron core’ is the type of information that is crucial in a democracy: the type of information that holds the government accountable and delivers issues to the citizens to allow them to make informed decisions. This is not the soft entertainment-laden news of celebrities and lifestyle; this is serious reporting that is ‘news of verification’ as opposed to ‘news of assertion’. Jones argues that the ‘iron core’ as we know it is corroding due to economic factors and the lack of resources.
But let’s face the facts — audiences want to read about celebrities and lifestyle don’t they? Maybe, but is this truly where we see ourselves as the future journalists of the world?
As an aspiring journalist, reading this makes me really reflect upon what I consider a journalists role to be. I can’t speak for everyone, but the reason I got into journalism in the first place was not so I could write about Paris Hilton’s latest escapade. In fact, most journalists would say they got into journalism to be part of the ‘fourth estate’ — to have the power to hold the government accountable and to be the agents of change. This is becoming increasingly difficult as journalists have to consider news as a product and to write about what ‘sells’ to their audience. This excerpt is an important reminder that if we can go back to the roots of traditional journalism, and write about what is important, perhaps we can save the ‘iron core’.