At a time when the legitimacy of the press is questioned and the term “fake news” is thrown around without regard to its impact, we must remember the irreplaceable role the press fills in our lives. We have the privilege of living in a country where the freedom of the press is protected. Journalists need not fear persecution for exposing the truth. We are privileged to have a diversity of news sources available to us, and to not have that news censored by our government. Undermining the credibility of reputable news sources practicing responsible journalism is detrimental to the health of the United States.
The press provides us with an exceptionally important service: the delivery of information to the everyman, and the representation of citizens’ interests to our leaders. As individuals, we do not have the resources to ask the elected officials, businesses, or other groups of interest tough, well-researched questions. We rely on the press to investigate on our behalf and bring information to us. Without this information, we are left ignorant of the world around us.
This structure comes with a social contract of responsibility. It is up to news organizations to gain the trust and earn the respect of individuals. This means following the ethics of responsible journalism, most notably producing work that is well-researched and accurate. The contract also falls on the individuals, who should support news organizations producing the highest quality work, and reject those that mislead, over-sensationalize, or are otherwise unethical.