After its abysmal failure in the 2016 election season, the news media turned to look inward. The Internet has been inundated with articles and commentary on the media’s complicity in Donald Trump’s election, its potentially dangerous focus on trivial matters to the exclusion of important stories, as well as the rise of fake news and hyperpartisan alternate-reality echo chambers. Many of us have feared we may be witnessing the end of quality journalism – and with it, the end of credible information sources, the end of any chance to have an informed electorate, the end of brave women and men risking much to expose corruption and hold those in power accountable for their actions. Even the president-elect continually attacks and threatens journalists, discrediting them in order to convince his followers that he is the only source of truth in the world, despite feeding them a constant stream of blatant lies. In this state of affairs, what hope do we have for a free and independent press?
It seems there may be a ray of hope after all. In response to Donald Trump’s bashing of journalists for simply doing their job (that job being to report facts, not to praise Trump), people are realizing that quality journalism must be protected and encouraged to grow. Subscriptions to respected publications are surging as Americans shore up support. Dan Rather, who is as qualified as anyone in America to speak on the subject of quality journalism, sees these changes as a positive sign for the future. In a message on his Facebook page, Rather says:
2016 will be remembered for many things, but one of those may be that it was the year that American journalism got a much-needed spine transplant – perhaps too belatedly for election coverage, but nonetheless.
For all the talk and real grave concern over “fake news” and the sometimes fawning and largely unquestioning coverage Donald Trump got during the primaries and even from some quarters during the general election, there have been some real signs of hope of late. I believe the perniciousness of “false equivalence” has begun to sink in, and especially in the print press we have seen a strong surge in deep digging investigative reporting.
I have noted on this page that there have been some surprising new sources of serious reporting – such as Teen Vogue – and some of the more legendary journalistic enterprises seem to be hitting their stride. Perhaps chief amongst them in my opinion has been the Washington Post whose coverage during and since the election has been top notch – and not only when it comes to politics but in international coverage, the sports pages (a personal favorite) and almost every other section of the paper.
There are reports that subscriptions for many publications are surging as perhaps Americans realize that good reporting isn’t free. And for someone who believes a free and independent press is the bedrock of our democracy, headlines like this that the Post is greatly expanding its reporting staff is reason not only for celebration, but hope – hope for the future of journalism, and by extension, our Republic.
Hopefully, this increase in support for quality journalism signals an ongoing effort by Americans to ensure we always have a free and independent press. Without that, our great Republic will fail. As Dan rather pointed out, “good reporting isn’t free,” so please consider financially supporting news outlets that practice journalism with accuracy, bravery, and integrity. A lot of people have recently fallen prey to the idea that all news media is biased and false, but this is simply not true. Some news sources are much better than others at reporting true, objectively verifiable facts – and because what they report can be objectively verified, their trustworthiness can be assessed by higher standards than pure emotion or what Donald Trump said about them. Civitas suggests (but does not get paid to suggest) the New York Times, Washington Post (reduced rate for Amazon Prime members), and ProPublica as organizations where your money would support high-quality and fair reporting. Your subscription dollars allow them to hire more good journalists, and you get to stay informed on world events from a credible source. We all win.