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journalists see value in journalism


"in the main journalists are convinced or easily persuaded that what they do is so good and important that someone should pay them to do it", but this is too broad a conviction to be persuasive to non-journalists. A more carefully argued version of what journalists feel would be that, when done well, institutionally produced news has distinctive, socially advantageous qualities. It can pull together large groups of people with diverse perspectives and interests into a shared public conversation. J├╝rgen Habermas has presented the rise of the press as having been essential to the creation of the public sphere, and newspapers are also central to Benedict Anderson's idea of nations as "imagined communities". Journalism can provide verified, impartial information about public affairs, rather than offering up a cacophony of opinion and conflicting claims as the internet often does. Reporters can surface and present to the public important material that otherwise would not be available, for example about the misdeeds of the powerful.

-- Nicholas Lemann

Satellite and cable television, and then, especially, the internet, have brought the protected position of big news organizations to a sudden end, and made the underlying erosion of the newspaper audience more obvious. Previously, defining journalism had been easy, at least for journalists. As Brock puts it, "Journalists were people who worked for these quasi-industrial organizations". Much of what news organizations produced was replicative - substantial press packs covered the same stories in roughly the same way - or was merely a repackaging of public information. But, operating from their safe perch, journalists could tell themselves that if they produced something, it must have economic and social value. Those comfortable assumptions are now gone. As a business, newspapers have been subjected to devastating competition from new entrants in advertising sales and in information provision. As a social activity, they have had to meet a much higher standard of originality and distinctiveness.

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