The Vermont Cynic

The future of print news in a multimedia-crazed world


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Those of you who are reading this article are participating in the dying art of journalism.

Journalism has been considered sacred since the war for independence, but recent trends have shown this revered check on society no longer holds the importance it used to.

Newspaper sales are abysmal at best, with many people unwilling to pay any money to get quality news. This is a result of the growing access to online journals that give away articles for free.

These online newspapers would be a good way to carry on the legacy of print journalism, except for the facts that they are not as reliable and can easily be subject to outside forces, such as advertisers. This results in receiving biased information.

This intrinsic bias results in a corrupted form of media being presented that fosters distrust.

Given the current ways in which we receive news, trying to fix these problems will only become more difficult. People will continue to be unwilling to invest time and supplies into a broken system. This will com- pound the problem as each new generation of potential journalists decides to invest their education in advertising or public relations.

The other problem is a distrust of news sources, leading to diminishing importance of the media, which is especially troubling when you take into account how it is an important check on the workings of the government.

The need to make a profit has very eerie consequences, such as distaste for investigative pieces or even the possibility of stopping a story because it affects the sponsor negatively, which takes away the importance of this crucial check.

The path this infers is not one that is correlated for a well-functioning democracy.

The effects of illegitimate media are already felt worldwide.

“Steep declines worldwide [of freedom of the press] were linked to two factors: heightened partisanship and polarization in a country’s media environment, and the degree of extralegal intimidation and physical violence faced by journalists,” according to Freedom House.

Now this type of behavior is often attributed to Middle Eastern countries, but troubling signs can be linked to the United States as well, with party polarization at high levels.

Those of you with an acute sense of history may be noting that the polarization has been far worse than it is today. For those of you who knew this already, I congratulate you on your interest in history; for the rest of you, please read a book on the election of 1800 or 1860.

With these historical examples in mind, it can be very easy to dismiss the polarization of the media today as being a recurring trend, but the circumstances are far different. During the 19th Century, newspapers were the primary means of information distribution.

This meant a high readership and the possibility of entrepreneurs to create independent news outlets, compared to the 140-characters-or-less-journalists online picking up the slack left from real news outlets. They just cannot be accountable for this shortcoming.

With this in mind, I believe the fall of journalism is extremely troubling, and think it is everyone’s fault — I am looking at you, readers who did not pay for this newspaper. We have all come to expect our news to be free, and unless we seriously re-evaluate the way in which we receive our media, we may be losing touch with one of the most important sections of free speech.

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
The future of print news in a multimedia-crazed world