The News Business
The News Media and Journalism in America
Most of us recognize the news — regardless of whether it appears in print, on television, or on the Internet — as a vehicle designed to both educate and entertain viewers. But for others the news is a business. These people are behind the scenes of the news, making decisions designed to ensure that papers and programs remain profitable.
It's no question that the quest of those on the business side of news for profit and success greatly influences what the general consumer sees and hears. While journalists are intent upon delivering the type information that will contribute to an informed democracy, those on the business side of the media may be more interested in delivering the type of information that will maximize their organization's profits. This situation results in a certain tension between the two groups, as well as input on both sides regarding what is "right" and what is "wrong" in terms of journalistic policy.
Just a few decades ago, most newspapers, television stations, and other kinds of American media were independently owned. While this did not diminish the ability of those who owned them to showcase their agendas, readers and viewers were at least treated to a wide variety of opinions and angles. While those on the business side were concerned with making a profit, they were equally as concerned with delivering the news in a journalistic manner.
Fast forward to the present time. Today, many news organizations have consolidated in an effort to reduce costs and maximize profits. This type of consolidation may certainly make things easier and less costly for the news organizations, but it most likely does not improve the quality of the news. In fact, with fewer independent news organizations in the mix, the general public is not necessarily treated to unbiased news, but rather the type of news those in the executive ranks believe will generate the largest profits.
Journalists, on the other hand, have a certain desire to be independent of the executives and advertising department. Unlike those on the business end of the media, their goal is to deliver the best news possible, regardless of whether or not it results in profits. They see the news for what it is, and not as a "product." They view their readers and listeners as the general public, and not as "consumers."
While the tensions between the journalists who work for the organization and the executives who run the organization are nothing new, it's important that the media understand the importance of remaining trustworthy to the public. While they seem to currently be treading a fine line, crossing that line so that the public does not trust or value what they see or hear will have the exact opposite effect they are hoping for.
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The News Business and Good Journalism