By Jasmine Wing | @jasminenatashaw
Sometimes, maybe in a child-like attitude, we may think to ourselves what is the point in journalism anyway? Just like the pubescent school boy dragging his feet across the hall way, forcefully slinging his school bag onto the sofa, his body slumped over and then boldly declaring, “What’s the point in school anyways?” You and I both know that such a statement is ludicrous. Just as children cannot be without education, the world cannot be without journalism.
Reading the newspaper in the mornings over a cuppa, on the cramped tube to work or reclining in the armchair in the evening makes us feel connected, connected to the world outside our own small lives. Without news we’d feel isolated from the rest of the world.
The role of journalism in society is plainly obvious if you ask me; it’s to keep you in the loop. Not forgetting of course that is entices the reader to participate. The journalist’s job is to drop the reader right into the scene, capture their attention, and make them feel as though they are there in the middle of it all.
Emma Daly from Human Rights Watch wrote in her recent article titled; Why We Need Journalism. “We won’t learn about the horrors in Syria, the crackdown in Russia, or the mass surveillance by the US, unless journalists can do their jobs. We are fortunate – most of us will not have to endure what Syrians are suffering – but we are entitled to know what is going on there.”
Filling the void: switching on, tuning in… it just breaks the silence. Some of us may turn on the radio or TV news because we can’t bare the silence of nothingness. We might just read the newspaper on a journey or in our ‘in-between’ moments. This allows us to still gather our source of information on the world somehow, sometime. So what if news is just the background noise or passing time for some members of the public. Are they selective of that background noise? I think most would say ‘yes’. The writer’s tone of voice, the overall views of the paper and opinions of the people conversing are things we consider when choosing which medium we select.
As De Botton put it, ‘once our formal education has finished, the news is the teacher.’ We go to the news not only for entertainment purposes but it becomes a structure of education. ‘It is the single most significant force setting the tone of public life and shaping our impressions of the community beyond our own walls’ (De Botton, 2014). Yet as De Botton rightly argues, the news is absent within the educational system. We need to teach our young people the importance of consulting the news and knowing their way round the New York Post, alongside understanding the Shakespeare plot. This suggestion by De Botton increases the view of the news, giving it a more significant purpose within society.
I believe is for us to feel alive, not only to feel connected but yes, alive. ‘To consult the news is to raise a seashell to our ears and be overpowered by the roar of humanity’ said Alain De Botton.
Subconsciously after reading the traumas in the news, we Brits re-evaluate the seriousness of our little problems, the frustration of the next door neighbour’s cat that keeps visiting our garden or the parcel that’s annoyingly been returned to the depot. And even our frustrating climate. But hey, the stories in the news can help us to be aware of the greater problems. ‘..And to allow these larger concerns to drown out our own self-focus apprehensions and doubts’ (De Botton, 2014). It teaches us not to wallow in our own problems but look outward rather than inward. (Just to clarify these are not self-help, meditation tips.)
But what is journalism’s purpose, what is the point in it all. In short, I am convinced that it has a momentous drive in our existence. As the world becomes increasingly linked via the internet this may even broaden our grasp of current affairs.