This is an existential question when you are the front page or homepage editor of a newspaper, and the answer is, it depends. Take a look at the front pages above from four newspapers in New York City on Feb. 21, 2020. They all have different lead stories but some overlapping ones as well.
That’s the question dominating the airwaves, podcasts, and headlines, and one we should all be asking in light of the local news crisis I wrote about in my last post. The good news is that the conversation has started, and people are beginning to realize that they need local news to be active and informed members of their communities.
Your question could not be more timely: McClatchy, the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain that operates The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 13, 2020. And that’s just the latest development in the local news crisis.
To start, the word “appease” may be too strong in this context. But that doesn’t mean that, sometimes, in the real world, the wall between corporate interests and journalistic independence can be compromised.
You’re right that there is quite a high bar in the United States for public figures to prove libel, which is essentially a false statement that harms a person’s reputation. The First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution provide some of the most robust legal protections in the world for journalists and the freedom of speech. And that’s by design.
If you can control what people know, then you can control what they think.
It’s true—in this age of Facebook and Twitter, just about anyone can share what they know. And thanks to the internet, that information travels at breakneck speed to potentially global audiences in a single keystroke, but that doesn’t make it journalism. In fact, this phenomenon reinforces why journalists need to distinguish themselves.
TikTok has quickly grown to become one of the most popular social media apps in the mobile industry. While it’s not officially supposed to be used by anyone under 13 (and under-18s technically need approval from a parent or guardian), nobody’s enforcing the age limits.
Only slightly more than half of Americans find that it is simple to determine if something is either news or opinion. The worst area of confusion is social media, where just 43 percent of people said they could easily sort news from opinion.
A warm welcome back to all our news literacy students and NewsLiteracyMatters.com subscribers. Spring classes begin today at Hunter College, which means our website is back in business. And just in time for the first-ever National News Literacy Week.