“Journalism is what we need to make a democracy work.” – Walter Cronkite
With the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press, a bond was forged between our democratic system of government, journalists who report on issues and news, and the right and responsibility of citizens to become informed participants in civic life.
But journalism is struggling. The dominance of the internet and social media and the ease of publishing on these platforms have resulted in a proliferation of information of unknown origin—drawing attention away from established print and broadcast news outlets. Especially concerning is the decline of local journalism, leading to “local news deserts.” Strong local journalism builds trust in democratic institutions; this in turn builds strong communities.
In October 2020 Georgia Humanities partnered with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) to produce a program exploring the role of journalists today, media literacy, and how news consumers can do their part. The livestreamed program (click here to view on the GH website) featured three segments, hosted individually by GPB journalists Leah Fleming, Donna Lowry, and Virginia Prescott, in conversation with Douglas A. Blackmon, a Georgia State University professor, journalist, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II; recently retired WSB-TV news anchor and WSB director of public affairs Jocelyn Dorsey; and veteran CNN executive editor Ram Ramgopal.
In the first segment Leah Fleming and Ram Ramgopal covered professional journalism, including the qualifications of journalists, ethics, and reporting processes. In the second segment Donna Lowry and Jocelyn Dorsey discussed the importance of local journalism and journalism “deserts.” And in the third segment Virginia Prescott and Douglas Blackmon explored connections between journalism and the humanities disciplines.
For more information, see our news literacy site, Know Your News.
This program is part of an ongoing initiative, Democracy and the Informed Citizen. We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.