Published March 03, 2021
By ALICIA KRUEGER
I often catch myself contemplating how I managed to decide on pursuing a career in a dying field that is criticized daily, if not blamed entirely for our country’s most prominent issues–a field deliberately contradicted and home to a craft seeming to lack the respect I so humbly deem it deserves.
Considering the state of public opinion towards journalism throughout my teenage years, 2016 to 2021, and its correlation to the repercussions of our late president as feelings of distrust in the press trickle down from our largest to smallest forms of democracy, thoughts like these probably seem logical. They probably seem like good questions that should lead me towards rethinking a decision to spend thousands of dollars educating myself within the field over the next four years. These thoughts have crossed my mind, and if they’ve, or something along their lines, have crossed yours, maybe you should be considered a level-headed individual, but you should also be reminded of something you’ve forgotten or maybe never knew at all: the deep-rooted value of journalism.
I say deep-rooted because freedom of the press lies within the words that, at the core, hold us as a society together. It lies within the First Amendment of the Constitution, not to be missed or misinterpreted. It is a string of four short words that provide clarity within the Founding Fathers’ mission to build a reliable and responsible democracy–a democracy that considers and provides accountability of societal institutions, citizen access to information and voices to those who go unheard.
This is something so deeply ingrained within the foundations of American life that when journalism, as an entity, is threatened or overlooked at the national level, we quickly feel the impact at home, and we feel that impact now.
Take The Carmel Pine Cone, for example. For me, the Pine Cone is littered throughout my memories. It is on the coffee tables of old friends’ houses, near the firewood pile of camping trips past and sitting on the newspaper rack in front of Mid-Valley Safeway each and every time I have passed through their doors. It is something that was and is undoubtedly there despite going unnoticed for years, but when it seemed like all other news outlets were failing or were deemed “unworthy” one way or another throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, The Pine Cone’s emailed Daily Bulletins became a reliable, consistent place to understand what COVID-19 numbers really looked like on a local level. The Pine Cone’s dependability became vital to my decision-making and to many of those around me.
My point is that while journalistic publications became politicized or biased or fell out of favor, there were also publications that held their ground. There were publications that returned to their roots and reevaluated themselves to ensure their positive contribution to democracy.
The key part of this is the reevaluation within modern journalism as it reflects on original values and combats ever-present societal changes. It is the balance between adaptation and preservation of the one main goal of “positive contribution.” I, personally, find it reassuring that publications and the people behind such publications strive to maintain these seemingly simple ideas. I find it reassuring that this kind of directed effort is designed for the maintenance of reliable and responsible democracy.
Within this reassurance lies additional appreciation for the actual transition from facts and data and miscellaneous stories to one, solid piece designed for all who read to understand and interpret under their own perceptions.
As an entity allowed to evolve as long as it remains trustworthy and loyal to the goal, journalism has great freedom. It has freedom to change both creatively and structurally within society. This freedom allows for new ideas and for the reinforcement of important old ones.
I understand that my work as a high school reporter is incomparable to the work that can move millions of people into action or shift mindsets on a grand scale, but I also understand my work to be representative of the same thing.
While journalism may slip through the cracks of your busy life or onto the coffee tables and fire mantels of your memories, I hope you are reminded of its historical roots and its push for present advances. I hope that you who eagerly jump towards an interview and stay caught up on our community news continue to do so, and if that isn’t your thing, I hope you admire its work and the people’s part in creating it.
You don’t have to blindly love everything said within local or national publication, as the press should be criticized and reminded of its downfalls, but I ask you to respect journalistic dedication to the process of honest, ethical reporting. From there, I implore you to do your part in contributing to and engaging in journalism, even at the most local level.