Importance of journalism in society

Lily Hanafin, Opinions Editor

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786. Two hundred years later, this sentiment remains true. For every country in the world, a free democracy is only possible when citizens are given access to facts and information, which will allow them to make well informed decisions. 

However, once regarded as a noble and trusted institution that people would turn to in times of uncertainty and doubt, has now been condemned and lambasted by the United States general public. A recent Gallup poll found that only 36% of Americans have trust in the media. An institution that informs people of the truth, helps to prevent horrific events, and keeps our democracy alive, is now no longer trusted or respected by more than a third of the country’s citizens. 

Journalists all over the world are risking their lives to report on stories to the public. For example, as of Dec. 1, 2021, 26 journalists have been imprisoned in Myanmar for reporting on the Rohingya genocide and the military take-over. Furthermore, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that since 1992, 38 journalists in Russia have been murdered as a result of their profession. Some might wonder why anybody would risk their life to report on an assignment, but it’s the same reason for most of these journalists—to inform the citizens of all these countries about the truth. These journalists are some of the bravest people, risking their lives everyday to report in war-torn countries and print the truth in anti-free press countries;  they deserve the bare minimum: to be respected and have the news they report on taken seriously.  

The anti-free press rhetoric touted over the past four years has led many Americans to have an irrational lack of trust in the media. The term “fake news” has been thrown around so frequently in the past four years that people now claim any news story they don’t agree with is fake news. Not only does this sentiment of “fake news” make facts and news obsolete, but it prevents people from actually distinguishing factual news from sensationalized news. When you attack the free and independent press, you’re not just attacking facts or statistics that don’t align with your worldview; you’re attacking the truth and the right to a free unadulterated democracy. 

On a more personal note, as I write my last column, I’d like to reflect on what journalism and being a part of the LION has meant to me. On top of the friendships, experiences, and skills I’ve gained from being a member of the LION Newspaper, the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about being on the paper is our ability to report and write about the stories important to the LT community. Hopefully, we were able to shine a light on some of the many positive people and events that are a part of LT, and help inspire change to make our school a better place. To me, that’s what journalism is about—trying to make the world a better place, one story at a time.