Investigative journalism is more important now than at any point in the last century. But deep, investigative work is expensive, and newspapers and news magazines are struggling around the country. It can’t go on like this. It’s time for a Real News Revival.
Why is real news important? Why is it in trouble?
Real news is a process. It comes from trained professionals doing long, careful work. Journalists support their claims with evidence that editors can verify. But the investigative process comes with a high price tag, and news agencies are struggling financially. Five major, national news organizations recently announced new layoffs. It’s getting harder and harder for major outlets to commit resources to long-term investigations, and the situation is far worse at the local level. It can’t go on like this.
Modern liberal democracies need investigative journalism. Journalism is, among other things, an open line of communication between citizens and leaders, elected and otherwise. The people get information about what is happening in our world and how we should make sense of it. Those at the top get to see the effect of and response to recent events and policies.
Without real news from real journalists, the signal is lost. National and local leaders struggle to connect with their communities. Citizens struggle to understand and contextualize events in an increasingly complex world, and it becomes exceedingly difficult to check abusive, illegal, or unethical practices in society. When journalists struggle, liberal democracy struggles.
It can’t go on like this. We need to foster a civic and philanthropic commitment to investigative journalism around the country. It’s time for a Real News Revival!