As the question arises this week to ask if journalism is a profession, I can’t help but think that professional values are going to be more important for our generation of journalists then ever before. During the digital age of media, journalists are competing not only with one another, but also with their readers in the form of citizen journalism. Journalists were considered so based on a byline on the front page. Having their name in print next to a story was proof that they had not only written the article to follow, but that a news organization had accepted these facts and details of an event as news. It simply took publication in a newspaper to convince readers that a journalist was he. But with a mixture of so-called professional journalists, citizen journalists, entertainment and commentary publication is no longer a form of stamping a journalist as such. “Citizen media have no obligation to embrace or exercise standards of journalistic ethics and professionalism,” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2007).
News was once limited to those who could afford to print a newspaper and their employees. Today with the invention of the Internet and its contents such as blogs and social networking news is no longer a profession by limited access, but must be separated by ideals and values, (Gade & Lowrey, 2010). It is no longer a contest won by money. “The challenge for journalists and news media generally in a digital marketplace crowded with content providers and aggregators is how to make their product standout and attract attention,” (Gade et al., 2010). This “duality of missions,” providing the news and gaining the largest audience, is forcing news to suffer for business purposes creating a more entertaining version of news, or infotainment, above providing the truth and facts that most critically supplement democracy and informed citizens.
“News has become an abundant commodity, easily aggregated (often by non-journalism entities), and sent to or shared with online audiences for free, diluting the value of news,” (Gade et al., 2010). So it is during the age of digital media, when the values of journalism and news have become not only important for the serving of democracy and an informed public, but they have become the only weapons that journalists and news organizations have left to fight for the trust of the citizens. After decades of losing the trust of citizens (Gade et al., 2010), journalists must hold professional values such as truth, public service, objectivity, independence and fairness closer than ever (Kovach et al., 2007). These values are what separate us, the journalists, from those who are polluting the media, often citizen journalists or commentators, particularly online, with falsehood, biases, marketing schemes and subjective commentary.