Journalism's Proper Bottom Line

Anderson, Bonnie M.
December 2004
Nieman Reports;Winter2004, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p51
This article presents the author's views on the future of American journalism. In recent years, punditry, opinion and so-called infotainment have permeated newscasts and newspapers to such a degree that it is now difficult for the average news consumer to distill the news from what they read and watch. Can responsible journalism survive in this environment? Yes. And it is our duty to ensure it does. The First Amendment provides special protection for freedom of the press, but along with that comes the responsibility to safeguard the people's right to know. First, though, we must acknowledge the root of the problem. Punditry and bias are mere symptoms of a far more insidious malady affecting journalism: the profit motive. While all news media have become victims of the bottom line, television news organizations have capitulated most to the pressures of their corporate owners, who have proven willing to sacrifice standards, ethics, professionalism and the public trust in order to make more money. Finally, it is up to those of us who care deeply about journalism's honorable role in our society to try to renew the idealism of colleagues and news consumers alike who have grown complacent or cynical. We must share our abiding faith in this institution and show, by our actions and words, that we mean to protect it at all cost. We must.


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