Why is Journalism Important? We Need It Now More Than Ever

This is a guide covering the importance of journalism.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

What is Journalism?

Journalism is the act of gathering, compiling, presenting, and disseminating news via the mass media. Whatever the medium, whether it’s TV, radio, prints, or the Internet, the principles of journalism remain the same.

The media is rightly termed as the fourth pillar of the state. For the efficient working of democracy, the role of media, in general, and journalism, in specific, is vital.

A journalist’s main task is to report on current events. But, it should be noted that a journalist doesn’t merely cover stories in a vacuum.

Journalism without context helps no one. Therefore, a great part of journalism is contextualizing events of importance.

“The medium is the message ” – Marshall McLuhan

Moreover, journalism serves various other functions in a society, including performing the role of a watchdog, providing information, creating awareness, and setting up agendas for debate.

Journalism is undeniably the most important profession in a democratic society.

That’s why a differentiating benchmark of democracy remains whether the press in a country is free or not.

We, as humans, share a fundamental need: the need to have information. Since the time of our ancestors, the need for information has separated us from other animals.

Finding places to hunt food, places with an abundance of water, and safety from predators, are all the ways in which information was vital to our survival.

In the modern age, that same need for information exists, however, the methods and objectives are vastly diverged due to the advancements in technology.

We live in an age of mass media where a single medium used by journalists to propagate news has the capacity to reach millions, if not hundreds of millions, of audiences.

Journalism then is nothing but a way to serve this information-hungry world.

Without journalism, we would have no news, no current affairs, no news of stock markets, no news of disasters, and no international affairs.

The process of pursuing stories, interviewing newsmakers, verifying facts, and contextualizing the stories, all makeup what is meant by journalism.

what is journalism
classic journalist

Why Is Journalism Important in Our Society?

The importance of journalism and its positive effect on society is predicated on its function as the news gatherer and disseminator of information.

Modern society, especially, needs to have a constant flow of information.

There are many fields where the role of information is vital.

Fields of politics, international affairs, science and technology, emergency relief efforts, disaster management, and other state and non-state functions cannot exist without a steady stream of information that is ensured by the presence of vibrant media.

So, there are many diverse roles that journalism plays in society.

Journalism serves the important function of a watchdog in society; holding the corrupt and the evil accountable through shedding light on their shady activities is a basic function of journalism.

Oftentimes, in exposing these elements, the media persons will get their own lives at risk.

Another role that the media serves in society is also acknowledged by a well-known media theory called the Social Responsibility Theory, which states that journalism or media, in general, has “an obligation to provide trustworthy and relevant news and information as well as opportunities for diverse voices to be heard in the public arena.”

Through the above definition offered by Siebert, a professor of Journalism in the 1950s, we come to know of another lesser-known function of the media, which is to not only provide trustworthy news but also give opportunities for other diverse voices in society to be heard.

To further explore the importance of journalism, we also recommend this video:

What Is Journalism and Why Does it Matter?

What is the Importance of Journalism to Students?

Media, nowadays, has penetrated every sphere of our lives. We cannot live modern life without using or consuming media in some form or another.

With the widespread adoption of digital media, the importance of the people whose role is to inform is even greater.

Journalism programs are offered in almost every higher education institution and in every country of the world. The field of journalism saw huge growth over the last couple of decades.

Interest in journalism will continue to soar as our need for instant and trustworthy sources of news become greater.

Students who would want to pursue a career in journalism after the completion of their degree program would do well to break into the industry as early as possible.

They can work as interns at professional newsrooms, assistants to established journalists, or create their own blogs.

On-campus journalistic activities can mold students for later-life activism.

Participating in student journalism is also a great way for students to familiarize themselves with how journalists pursue, gather, and distribute stories.

Lastly, journalism is important for students because it helps train their journalistic eye for news.

They learn about the process of verification of news and sources through pursuing on-campus stories that affect the students at large.

To further explore the importance of journalism for students, we also recommend this TED Talk by Cammi Tirico:

The Importance of High School Journalism | Cammi Tirico | [email protected]

What is the Impact of Journalism?

Journalism has had a varied impact. Some perceive it to be positive while others are more dismissive of its practices.

Politicians who find that a certain news channel, publication, or website is against their policies will instantly accuse it of yellow journalism without any evidence, for example, Donald Trump accusing the press of being the enemy of the people.

fake news journalism
fake news

According to the Agenda-Setting Theory of Media, the media’s choice to cover certain aspects of a story, or its choice to pursue a certain story or not, has a great bearing on our understanding of ourselves as a society.

Media reporting tells us what stories are hot, who are the newsmakers, and what should be front and center of people’s discourse.

That is the true impact and power of journalism.

Democracies feel the impact of journalism in their societies the most because the freedom of the press ensures that all sections of the government stay true to their campaign promises, that they uphold their oath of office, and that they do not indulge in corrupt activities.

Further, as it has been argued before in the section on journalism’s impact on society, it also plays a great role in bringing public and political offices under the purview of the public, ensuring that they remain accountable to the people.

What is the Importance of Journalistic Writing?

Journalistic writing is a lot different from other types of writing.

Often journalistic writing is known for its brevity and simplicity. The points are conveyed in short sentences and paragraphs.

A kind of journalism called tabloid journalism uses an extreme version of this style. The paragraphs in a tabloid newspaper consist only of a sentence.

Almost all the famous writers of the 20th Century, like George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway,

Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, et cetera, all started out as journalists first. Learn more in our investigative journalism guide.

Writing journalistically also helps develop objectivity in your arguments as it trains you to be unbiased about the stories you report.

What are the Benefits of Studying Journalism?

1. Become a Better Communicator

Studying journalism at the university level will teach you to be a better communicator. Your writing will improve exponentially.

2. Learn to Ask Questions

You will also learn the skill of asking good questions at news conferences or when you are pursuing a juicy scoop for a story.

Studying journalism offers a lucrative career in the news coverage industry. Indeed.com, the job hunt site, shows that a journalist can earn anywhere from $45K — $50K in a year.

3. Travel and Meet New People

Besides the monetary lure of journalism, you will get to travel the world, work on exciting projects, meet celebrities almost on a daily basis, and get to do extensive research to feed your thirst for knowledge.

Quotes About the Importance of Journalism

Here are some quotes about the importance of journalism said by famous people:

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”  – Thomas Jefferson

“If journalism is good, it is controversial, by its nature.” – Julian Assange

“The function of journalism is, primarily, to uncover vital new information in the public interest and to put that information in a context so that we can use it to improve the human condition.”  – Joshua Oppenheimer

“They take journalism really seriously because they know the force that it is and can be.” – Christiane Amanpour

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want to be printed: everything else is public relations.”  – George Orwell

Final Remarks

The importance of journalism is in its value to inform the masses. Its role as a watchdog keeps the elected officials in line when in office.

Stories covered by journalism tend to become the hot topics of the day.

Our need for instant and reliable information has only increased, and the role journalism plays in spreading awareness will never wane.

Interested in writing journals? Check out our beginner journaling tips.