At its root journalism is a way to spread democracy throughout a community. Journalists create opportunities for public discussion by supplying people with facts and news and letting them make their own opinion or their own choices in different matters around their community.
Most citizens do not have the time or resources to be able to understand every little thing going on around them. Whether it is an upcoming election, a new building being built that may cause issues, or even as small as the local high school football team recap, journalism helps provide the information to us in order to make informed and educated decisions. Without journalism we wouldn't know which candidate we think best represents our ideals or if the new building might effect me, and if so what actions I can take to hopefully prevent it from happening. It allows us to take an active role in the communities we live in.
Journalism also provides for public discussion to happen. It encourages people to talk about the issues confronting them in bars and at dinner. With most newspapers it also affords regular citizens to express their views and opinions on different matters. Without public discussion then we would never know the impact of the different issues. While one side may say that a new building in the community might be good for business and be a beautiful monument to the city the other side may talk about the environmental impact and overall well being of having a monstrous building casting a shadow over the home. Without journalism there would be no vessel to facilitate these discussions. We wouldn't have a chance to learn more about things and to challenge ideas that may arise.
I don't think in most cases there is a right or wrong answer, but I do think it is important that everyone has a voice. Journalists first responsibility is to the citizens and to be a "voice to the voiceless". If they are representing them then it should provide a place where our opinions can be represented and told, which is exactly what democracy is. Not being told what to do or what to think. It is having the power to be informed and to think for one's self.
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