The Press is the biggest window we have into the happenings of the political world. Words, quotes, and speculation pour onto pages and tv screens to fill the curious and eager minds of Americans with the news of the day. Without the journalistic measures we currently run on, it’s likely that Americans would feel extremely disconnected from the government. But what exactly is the role of journalism in our political system?
In a 2016 interview conducted by Australian outlet, The Minefield, an interesting question arises. “Is political journalism a purely oppositional force, or do journalism and politics both represent vocations that should pursue some vision of good society?”
Within the chaotic world that we live in, journalists have a difficult job. Within the stories they’re assigned to cover, they may or may not have opportunity to provide their own voice. Are political journalists there to parrot the vetted soundbites from the government? Or are they there to shed light on shortcomings, deceptions, and hope for the future?
If political journalism merely existed just to give us the news, we could get the news anywhere – from any outlet, and from any person. But we count on these journalists to accurately source, accurately fact-check, and accurately deliver ALL political happenings that could be of interest to the American public. They have to be credible to the people and loyal to their sources. We trust them to tell us what’s really going on, in case “we the people” want to do something about it.
The apparent importance of political journalism from Journalist’s Resource’s review of change-provoking journalistic moments proves that our journalist’s articles are more than just words. Without the action of journalists, there’s no pressure on the government, state, or even just a business, to change their ways.
Late in 2016, The Poynter Institute ranked the most heavy-hitting political journalism of the year, with popular social news outlets such as Buzzfeed even getting a nod for their contributions. This mention, along with recognition for Politico’s work in 2016, shows that the demand for political media is growing, as more and more political outlets arise. Articles and reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker had mentions for their rigorous coverage on both sides of the Presidential race as well.
Without the interest of the American public, these news outlets wouldn’t survive. And to be able to enjoy such a wide variety of political voices in something that keeps America rich with culture and opinion. The best political journalists in the country know that they have an obligation to tell the truth to their audience, and with information being so readily available to the public in the 21st century, they know that their work will be judged that much more. As long as there are interested readers, political journalism will continue to thrive and shape our political discussions.