Editorial: Who Will Save Journalism?

When it comes to the latest Facebook project, we’re used to reading headlines like “Facebook Acquires Oculus” or “Facebook Buys Instagram.” That wasn’t the case when Facebook announced its latest endeavor earlier this year. The headline simply read “Introducing: The Facebook Journalism Project.”

The announcement made on their website described the project as a collaboration between Facebook and news organizations to develop products and learn from journalists about ways to be a better partner. In addition, the tech company would be working with publishers and educators on how to inform readers in the digital age. Current publishers partnering with Facebook include the Washington Post and Vox Media with the New York Times reportedly planning to join them in the future.

“The new initiative is something of a peace offering from Facebook to publishers who share news content on the network,” Mike Isaac of the New York Times wrote in January. “Publishers have long considered Facebook a kind of frenemy—increasingly relying on the social network to spread their stories but often wary of depending too much on one medium to reach an audience. Facebook also regularly changes its algorithms, which can make or break a publisher’s traffic and revenue…Facebook is also partly responsible for an upheaval in the advertising industry, with online ad dollars now being spent on the social network and Google instead of directly with publishers.”

But others have wondered why Facebook and other tech giants like Google and Apple have not put their money where their mouth is.

“While training, technology and innovation are critical, what journalism needs most now is money, and lots of it—to fund full-time local journalists,” Steven Waldman wrote in the New York Times. “What these companies have donated so far is too little given how wealthy they are, how much harm they’re (inadvertently) doing—and how much good they could do.”

Since publicly identifying itself as a media company, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has gone out of his way to affirm news organizations and their readers that Facebook was going to be their ally. In fact, Zuckerberg released a long manifesto in February called “Building Global Community,” where he addressed how social media played a big role in reporting accurate information.

“Accuracy of information is very important. We know there is misinformation and even outright hoax content on Facebook, and we take this very seriously. We’ve made progress fighting hoaxes the way we fight spam, but we have more work to do,” he wrote.

He continued, “A strong news industry is also critical to building an informed community. Giving people a voice is not enough without having people dedicated to uncovering new information and analyzing it. There is more we must do to support the news industry to make sure this vital social function is sustainable—from growing local news, to developing formats best suited to mobile devices, to improving the range of business models news organizations rely on.”

All of these statements indicate that Zuckerberg is sincere in his efforts, but I must admit, I’m not going to wait around for a tech billionaire to save journalism. Why should we when the industry is already filled with young news professionals around the same age as the 32-year-old Zuckerberg? You can find 25 of them in this month’s issue.

Our annual 25 Under 35 list recognizes young men and women who are fighting for a free press, doing their part in reporting the truth, and finding new ways to generate revenue in order to keep newspapers alive. As you get to know them, you’ll be encouraged to read how much they still believe in their profession. If a young mind is going to save journalism, it’s going to be the one entrenched in the newsroom.

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4 thoughts on “Editorial: Who Will Save Journalism?

  • April 4, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Only journalists can save journalism. Perhaps the focus should be directed towards changing the attitude of reporting. For too long reporting follows in line with the politics of an editorial board. Old fashion investigation and reporting the facts has evolved into something entirely different today. Reporting today has transitioned from informative reporting to objective reporting and the objective is to influence the reader politically. It is idealistic to think seasoned journalists can now change their attitude for how they structure their reporting. I do hope the new and young professionals entering into the world of journalism today can remove their own bias when reporting and let the facts fall where they may. Painful as it may be for journalists, it really is not your job to politically influence the reader and readers who are offended will continue to find news alternatives to objective reporting.

  • April 4, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Jerry, right on. Journalists will save journalism. When they get the bias and slanted coverage out of their systems. After 40 years of this, readers have gotten wise to them. They can still get an apartment fire, or a tornado, or a train derailment straight, but everything else has turned into a political screed; a manipulation they think they are fooling people with. When people realize they are getting all sides of an issue, customers will flock back and maybe, maybe it will be in time to lure back advertisers. I don’t give it much hope.

  • April 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Jerry and Al are spot on!
    The so-called “journalist”, the term even indicates bias, will be saved by reporters who have a many-sided eye for news.

  • April 4, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    By Wayne Dominowski
    SBA Editor

    (SB) – Just read where the mainstream media said they would help Facebook squelch fake news. Hahahahahahahaha. The pot calling the kettle black.
    After withstanding one of the dirtiest national political campaigns in over 100 years, the mainstream media expects us to believe they will help clean up Facebook’s fake news epidemic. How are they going to do it — by teaching them how to mask opinion as news, fabricating stories, telling lies, and presenting fiction as fact?
    Folks, the media we may have once known — the one that presented facts and let the listener/reader decide — died around 30 years ago. Most of us didn’t know it until this past election year. It just took us that long to figure out that our nation’s one time venerable, Fourth Estate, relegated itself to taking sides, making up stories, twisting the truth and wrapping it all up in fairy tales.
    A short while back, I was asked to talk to an organization about the state of newspapers today.
    One of the questions asked: Are newspapers going to make it financially?
    My response: Yes, I said, but qualified my answer. Weekly and Bi-Weekly newspapers are doing exceedingly well. Why? Because they serve their communities. They write about their communities. They reflect their communities. They promote their communities. They love their communities. They believe they exist to protect their communities.
    It’s the dailies that are in deep trouble.
    I used to look up to the daily newspapers; now, I don’t. They brought their problems on themselves. They sold themselves out. They went ideological instead of remaining pragmatic.
    Here’s an example of big time newspaper falling on its sword.
    Prior to the election, the Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton. I don’t remember their reasons other than they didn’t like Donald Trump. When the Clinton emails hit the fan the second time before the election, the DM Register might have considered recanting their endorsement. Rather than come out and say they had second thoughts, they chose to remain silent. They could have gained credibility; instead they lost another opportunity to tell Iowans they made a mistake and apologize… or better yet, admit they made a mistake.
    Daily newspapers have to get it into their swelled heads that endorsements are a thing of the past. They came about in America’s early history because very few people had access to candidates. Newspapers did — at least more so than the average Joe/Jolene. Newspapers back in the day endorsed a particular candidate on the latter’s merits. Those days are over with, and so are endorsements. They’re meaningless today and carry no weight whatsoever. Indeed, virtually every daily newspaper in the U.S. endorsed Clinton, while I know of only one that endorsed Trump.
    The major dailies once wielded tremendous influence with their readers, but that was at a time when newspapers strove to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them, God. They also stuck with what really was news rather than what they’ve morphed into today… entertainment, spectacle, sensationalism.
    Since when, for example, does George Clooney, Michael Moore, rap singers, millionaires, sports figures, Hollywood elites and talk show commentators know more about what’s good or bad for America than the guy/gal working 60 hours a week to make ends meet, or the senior citizens who worked — and worked hard — for everything they have, or the military veterans (especially the Vietnam vets) who fought and returned to a nation that spit on them and called them baby killers, or the man or woman who paid their own way for a college education by working days and schooling at night, or the parents who rear their children by teaching them respect and a solid work ethic…?
    Daily newspapers used to do investigative reporting — not the witch hunts they do today — and expose corruption, nepotism, criminal behavior, gangsterisms, and everything and anything that hurt Americans and America. Daily newspapers at one time were guardians of the public trust, and they jealously guarded that role (and were proud of it, too). When I think of investigative reporting, I think of Watergate and two exceptional reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who from 1972-1976 worked hard, diligently, and professionally to ultimately expose the Watergate break-in and President Richard Nixon’s role in it.
    What is the role of the big-time newspapers today? Your guess is as good as mine.
    It used to be that a fledgling newspaper person started off as a “cub reporter.” He/she worked their way up to reporter and that took time and learning. Columnists used to be steeped in values, meaning they understood the public they were serving. Major newspaper columnists today have replaced reliable and truthful resources and attribution to opinions based on feelings and hearsay.
    Feature writers saw the person within and wrote about qualities, virtues, perseverance, dedication, honesty, justice, and goodness. That’s disappeared. Feature stories today are an exercise in padding and infusing the pronoun “I” and themselves into stories. No wonder no one reads ‘em.
    Today, all you need to do is graduate from college and you’ve arrived with your very next step a Pulitzer Prize. No experience, no understanding, no realization, no ethics. Experience is gone; amateurism is in.
    Is it no wonder no one believes the stuff punched out and pasted on paper?


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