The Internet is creating unprecedented levels of interaction between citizens and journalists — from blogs to forums — even to the point of citizens becoming journalists. This is a fantastic development for the future of journalism and democracy.
But there are still skeptics out there. To all those who doubt the importance of interacting with readers, know that historically creating community has always been a key element of journalism, and thus of democracy.
“News” is previously unknown information. But journalism is much more than that. In “The Elements of Journalism,” Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel write, “The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.”
Columbia University journalism professor James Carey has suggested in his writings that journalism simply means carrying on and amplifying the conversation of the people.
“This definition has held so consistent through history, and proven so deeply ingrained in the thinking of those who produce news through the ages, that it is in little doubt,” Kovach and Rosenstiel say.
“It is difficult, in looking back, even to separate the concept of journalism from the concept of creating community and later democracy. Journalism is so fundamental to that purpose that ? societies that want to suppress freedom must first suppress the press. They do not, interestingly, have to suppress capitalism. At its best? journalism reflects a subtle understanding of how citizens behave, an understanding that we call the Theory of the Interlocking Public.”
If you try to separate journalism from community and democracy? Well, then, it may be news, but it’s not journalism.
— Jonathan Dube