Believe it: Journalism is worthwhile

Last weekend marked the 35th anniversary of when a group of five men clad in white gloves and armed with bugging equipment broke into the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C.

Two years later, President Richard Nixon resigned for his role in the attempted cover-up of the break-in. But it wasn’t the police or the FBI that brought down the Nixon administration.

It was journalism.

If it weren’t for Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and other journalists throughout the country, Nixon’s trickery might have slipped through the cracks.

Some people may have negative views about the media, and to the great disdain of many journalists, sometimes the media does fail. But Watergate is just one example of why journalism is so important.

More recently, the Washington Post uncovered the neglected treatment wounded soldiers were receiving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a supposedly prestigious hospital that was said to be at the top of military medicine.

After the story broke in February, many military officials claimed they had no idea the medical center was in such bad shape. Surely someone knew the center wasn’t fit for patients, but investigations into the matter didn’t begin until after reporters uncovered the scandal and society became enraged about what was happening.

If it weren’t for reporters, issues such as the Watergate scandal and the condition of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center may have never surfaced.

It’s a journalist’s job to uncover scandal. As journalists, we’re not asking for special recognition for doing our jobs. But the point is, journalists do serve a purpose in society.

Sure, the media often gets sidetracked, covering fluff such as Paris Hilton going to jail and Britney Spears shaving her head. In this aspect, journalists fail, because those aren’t important news stories. Many would agree that Paris and Britney should be left to the entertainment magazines that litter beauty parlors and nail salons across the country and offer little to no educational value.

But as previously stated, journalism also has its benefits. Journalists not only work to uncover corruption in politics, but they also cover smaller things that help keep people informed about what’s going on around them. Where do you turn to for information about the series of break-ins that have happened in your town or local events you’re interested in checking out?

We’ve had our fair share of failures and criticisms at the Stater, as many other news outlets have. It’s not uncommon to hear students rattle off complaints about us. But you’re still reading. We’re informing you – and that’s what matters.

One of the pillars of a democracy is an informed society. So, although the media makes mistakes and sometimes fails in its duties, the next time you decide to skip the evening news, drop the newspaper or choose not to visit, ask yourself: Could democracy really survive without journalism?

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board whose members are listed to the left.