What is journalism? Journalism is my chosen career path, my passion, the wind beneath my wings as Bette Midler would say. But what is it? It is defined as “the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television,” but is it really that simple? There are over fifty-six million newspapers sold daily nationwide. People consume the news everyday; teenagers like myself, however, usually do so subconsciously as a result of the new wave of online media when scrolling through our Facebook and Twitter feeds. However, popular opinion is that journalism is a dying profession, giving the impression that it has no real impact. This opinion could not be farther from the truth.
When I think of journalism, I think of exposing the wrongdoings of society. Muckrakers during the Progressive Era used publications and novels such as McClure’s Magazine and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to bring to light the unsafe and unsanitary working and living conditions of urban laborers (most of these laborers being children). Such works subsequently led to necessary and important changes in society, such as the abolition of child labor and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
When I think of journalism, I think of instilling justice. In 1980, Steve Titus was wrongfully convicted of Rape in the First Degree of a female hitchhiker as a result of false memory and given a mandatory prison sentence. While in jail, Titus contacted Paul Henderson, an investigative reporter at The Seattle Times, who wrote a series of stories that lead to officials finding the real culprit who later confessed to the crimes. Henderson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 1982.
When I think of journalism, I think of creating change. The New York Times‘ series “The iEconomy” exposed the “harsh conditions” of Chinese workers assembling Apple products and the “serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems” of Apple factories in 2012. As a result of the series, more than a million workers received twenty-five percent raises and working conditions improved significantly. Apple also announced that they would manufacture more computers in the United States, which led to other computer companies reassessing their overseas suppliers.
Journalism is not “dead.” It is alive with a powerful, beating heart, pumping blood and oxygen through over fifty-six million veins. Journalism is not only a life-force, but a driving force over the years, exposing the wrongdoings of society, instilling justice, and creating change. Journalism is not a “dead” profession, but one of the most honorable professions to pursue.