Journalism is about so much more than “the news”

One of the biggest issues that people call out with “capital J” Journalism (the industry of reporting) is a spot on assessment of today’s media climate — in it’s harder than ever to know who to trust, and what reporting is based on verifiable fact, vs. a twisted narrative someone wants to forward because of a corporate/political/narcissistic agenda.

Fundamentally, the Fourth Estate (“Journalism”) has only one, extremely important purpose: Bringing to light the truth, based on verifiable evidence. One very specific way that journalists do that, and the one most people think of when they think of journalism, is just telling you what’s going on. What did Trump do today? What’s happening with that civil war in the Sudan? What’s the deal with this performance “downgrade” on that Xbox game we love? We call it “the News”

There’s plenty of great (and not great) examples of “The News” journalism. I’m a huge fan (and paying subscriber) of the New York Times, and consider them the most hard-hitting journalistic force in America, so I’m convinced that all you need to do is scroll through the homepage of the NYT to see great reporting on “what’s happening today.” (some stuff from a couple weeks ago when I pulled these links):

But, because The News is the most superficial function of journalism, it’s also the easiest to subvert. The entire “fake news” debacle is the people arguing about whether something did or didn’t happen. Arguing about whether facts are indeed facts or not. Pretty asinine.

But ultimately what journalists “do” is, and what makes people like me think the industry is so important, goes far beyond “The News”. Here’s a list of the other important things that Journalism does that, if you let it, will make you a better citizen, neighbor, and human, with some of my favorite example:

#1 — Help you understand the world around you (the “why,” not just the “what”)

#2 — Make data more accessible, by turning numbers into stories

#3 — Make it easier to empathize with people who aren’t like you

#4 — Exposing you to new parts of the world

#5 — Create a space for important POVs that contribute to a broader conversation (even when they’re partisan)