The Purpose of Journalism

Journalism, at its core, is — and always should be — the means of providing truth to the mass. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. At a certain time period, however, the usage of not only the word, but the purpose has steadily been altered, thus allowing more people to partake in the action of writing. With the development of the internet, journalism has become available to most, if not all, people inhabiting this planet (excluding countries that prevent their citizens to act freely of course). We even have classes centered around the subject of journalism. Without a doubt, we have lots to be thankful for about the whole concept. If it wasn’t for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, we might not have known nearly as much as we should have about the Watergate scandal. Journalism gives voices to those who don’t have a mic to speak with. Because who else understands the mass more than the mass itself? Though we have much to be proud about, there is still a thin border that separates journalism from what it is and what it isn’t. How loosely can we use the word journalism before it’s no longer what it was intended to be?

Going back all the way to the 1400s, journalism was beginning to make a name for itself. It really took off in the 1600s, however, when the printing press was created in Germany (thanks Gutenburg). Soon after, newspapers and gazettes began to flood the streets, beginning to keep the public educated on the events happening around them. Political pamphlets were distributed, leading to the first periodical to be published in 1655. This was called the Oxford Gazette and it inhabited all of the qualifications needed in a newspaper. As decades go by, journalism had its ups and downs. Especially with the government always meddling into people’s affair. Laws were being created to regulate it; newspapers were beginning to get taxed; Benjamin Franklin making a name for himself in the publishing world (well, technically it was Silence Dogood…). And yet, throughout this whole period prior to the internet, most of journalism was comprised of information regarding news, recent events, politics, and maybe a couple cartoons. All of the information was made at an attempt to write about the truth; or was it?

Over the course of its lifespan, has journalism changed its purpose? I can’t make a definite answer, as that would only result in a personal opinion. After all, people write for different reasons; some write to provide citizens the information they need, others write because they want to make people laugh, and a few write to try to get their voices recognized. Regardless of the reason, the main purpose of journalism should always be an attempt to find the truth of whatever it may be.