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.
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.
In this well-researched Upshot article by Brendan Nyhan, imposter local news sites to promote ideological agendas, political parties and candidates are on the rise and designed to exploit the public’s trust in local news sources.
Great article by The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins that explains the architecture of disinformation and censorship through noise. Worth the (long) read.
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.
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.
Although some people view TV news anchors as just another pretty face reading the news off a teleprompter, they are real journalists. So if you want to be a news anchor, you’ll need the same skill set as any journalist–plus a few additional ones.
I’m not going to lie—the news industry is in a huge transition. But there is also a case to be made that the industry is starting to reap the benefits of this disruption.