If you’re reading this, then this argument may not be necessary to convince you.
That is to say, if you’re reading this, then it means there was some reason you stopped on your way through the Framingham State campus to pick up a copy of The Gatepost – whether you grabbed it reluctantly and out of boredom or you’re our most avid and eager reader, you must see some value in spending your time reading this publication.
But why? What made you pick up these inky pages, flip through them, scan headlines, examine photos, read articles? What, exactly, is the value of journalism? And why does it matter on such a small college campus?
In this business, there’s an adage that, as a journalist, if everyone likes you, then you’re not doing your job right. This isn’t because we’re unpleasant people. It’s because the journalist’s mission, in theory, is to report the truth, inform the community, give voice to those who might otherwise go unheard and criticize that which is unjust – regardless of who it might offend.
There are plenty of people who criticize journalism for a variety of reasons. Journalism may seem to sensationalize social issues. It may be a catalyst for riots and protesting. It may, because of practicalities and the human element, not always be as unbiased as it should be in theory. But these criticisms don’t negate the value of the work that journalists do.
Despite those who blame the news for sensationalizing the death of Michael Brown and the ensuing chaos, the news outlets didn’t make the people of Ferguson, Missouri riot in the streets. What they did do was shed light on an incident that represented a social issue some people were so passionate about that they put themselves in harm’s way to fight it.
The dangers that professionals like James Foley and Steven Sotloff face, who were brutally killed by ISIS for being journalists, are real and always present. But these dangers are proof of the importance of this work. If journalists weren’t a threat to dangerous powers and forces in the world, why would anyone try to silence them? Armed with nothing but a pen, a camera and a lot of courage, a journalist can be a soldier, critical in the fight against tyranny.
On this small campus, journalism matters because it brings students’ voices to those who make decisions that affect their daily lives. It offers anyone a voice of their own on the pages of this paper, or the information to help make changes in this community through another avenue. It helps people heal, connect and understand one another’s perspectives on important issues.
We give our readership the fullest truth we can because we believe you deserve it.
And there’s part of the answer – what we do matters to the extent that you, our readers, allow it to matter.
We at The Gatepost hope that when you put down this issue of our independent student newspaper, you go about your day armed with a little more truth – and then use that to change the world around you.
If you’re reading this, you’re helping to make journalism matter.