It is no coincidence that the decline in journalism and the decline in public life have happened at the same time. In modern society, they are codependent -- public life needs the information and perspective that journalism can provide, while journalism needs a viable public life because without one there is no need for journalism. Thus journalism and the people in it face a challenge. If journalists are to leave the country a better place than they found it and secure their profession's future, a great deal must change. This book about journalism and democracy suggests a place to start.
Foundational to the book are the author's own deep-seated biases which include:
• journalism in all its forms ignores its obligations to effective public life,
• failure has been a major contributor to the resultant malaise in public life,
• journalism should and can be a primary force in the revitalization of public life,
• but fundamental change in the profession -- cultural, generational change -- is necessary for that to occur.
Divided into three parts, this volume begins with a summary of the arguments -- why journalism and public life are inseparably bound in success or failure, and why the way journalism operates fosters failure more often than success. The next section looks at the development of the profession's culture in one journalist -- the author -- over four decades, and how he came to believe that substantive change is needed. The final part deals with the future of journalism in cyberspace and why journalism needs a vocabulary of values.