None of my previous criticisms are to say that there are not some phenomenal examples of what good, credible journalism looks like. For those near my hometown of Clarendon Hills, you should check out the Daily Herald, which provides more unbiased news than either of the big-name papers in Chicago while also providing a more local variety of news items. For more national news, I recommend listening to the National Public Radio (NPR), watching anything on NBC or ABC that has Megyn Kelly or David Muir as the lead anchor, or reading The Los Angeles Times (the article that first drew me to the Times was their analysis of the voting recount in Wisconsin—you can find it here). On the sports side of things, John Dietz, who works for the Herald, and Mark Lazerus, who work for the Chicago Sun-Times, are two of the best Chicago sportswriters I can remember reading in my 20 years (they both happen to cover hockey, but that’s irrelevant). On a national level, there’s a smattering of ESPN personalities who I follow unashamedly—Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic, Christina Kahrl, Bill Barnwell, Buster Olney, and Gab Marcotti—whose incredible attentions to detail, and journalistic integrity, are second to none. These incredible men and women, along with many others, are definitive proof that the world of journalism has incredible potential.
However, the way that the industry is currently going, there might not be nearly as many opportunities for phenomenal journalists to find footing. The problems mentioned here, and many other, more minor issues, are overshadowing much of the positives that traditional journalism has to offer, and if they continue to do so, these things might become the norm, which, in turn, will continue to undermine the field. The President’s bashing of the media aside, journalism as we know it is getting closer and closer to needing life support, and for an industry that plays such a vital, if sometimes underappreciated, role in our everyday lives, that is certainly not a good thing.
Maintaining those opportunities for the people that are passionate about following in the footsteps of some of the greatest writers, wordsmiths, and presenters the world has ever done is crucial to journalism’s survival as we know it; that’s why it’s imperative that we support the people that are offering paid content for their work. And I’m not talking about the behemoths like the New York Times, Gannett Company, or News Corp.—in my research over the past month or so that it’s taken me to write this series, I’ve found that the bigger the organization is, the less likely that they actually need money to sustain operations (duh) and the more likely it is that their work is starting to be more drastically affected by the current political climate (that’s just my opinion, of course, but I’ll just let the Times’s snarkiness in its recent coverage, as well as the poor evidence and rationale, and incredible bias, in Fox News’s, stand on their own)—but rather more local endeavors. Smaller, more locally based journalists that may not have the power to get their names out as easily as bigger companies can. I, myself, just bought a yearly subscription to The Athletic, a new company with in-depth coverage about Chicago sports. The work that I’ve read from them so far has been phenomenal, and in paying to receive their articles, I’m added to a growing readership that allowed them to open up a second branch in Toronto, an impressive feat in an environment that is seeing more and more situations like the one surrounding the Florida Panthers that I mentioned in the first part of this series. It’s also important for people to come to comprehend, at an early age, what bias is, and how to identify it, so that the crises that erupted over “fake news” during the recent election cycle either never occur again or are shot in the bud before they have a chance to gain a foothold as “mainstream.”
I recognize that journalism, as a field, will continue to evolve, and that many of the issues that I have with the industry today will be non-existent in ten years, only for new ones to take their place. I understand that the industry will never revert back to what it once was, that print newspapers and hour of radio broadcasts will never feature as prominently as they used to. But I am entirely confident if we can hang on to what made journalism what it is today—the honesty, and the dedication to solid, in-depth reporting—will allow it to thrive for many more years to come. And that, I believe, would definitely be a good thing.
Have any thoughts or questions on any of the pieces of this series? Contact me here.