The Importance of Getting Active in Politics

Friday, April 9, 2010

It may be assumed that it remains in journalists' best interests to remain politically neutral. However, according to an article published Tuesday on the Online Journalism Review by writer Robert Niles, in the case of independent online publishers (a position many of us may find ourselves in), getting politically active actually proves to be an important part of the job. Succeeding in this task gives publishers the opportunity to give input on important issues affecting the field as well as the ability to gain credibility with readers.

The government always has the potential to create legislation that drastically changes the media/news world including higher taxes or stricter access to public documents. Traditionally, big media conglomerates have lobbied to ensure that new legislation stays favorable to the field, however, the independent online publisher cannot rely on these businesses to have his/her best interests in mind. In some cases, as Niles points out, media companies may actually work against small independent sites.

Concerning public records, for instance, newspapers and other established media entities may have the staff to access public documents physically at the courthouse or other location and may or may not be concerned with lobbying for laws dealing with online public records. Independent Web sites, however, may not have the staff or time to deal with physical public records, and need to be willing to lobby for better access to online records. For another example of this idea, research net neutrality, a complex issue dealing with access to online content.

In addition to ensuring a beneficial economic environment for business, getting active in and understanding local politics should be a top priority for independent online journalists and publishers. These issues could be almost anything, ranging from school board issues, city budgets, local business, or even sports and culture. Covering and standing on these issues allows a journalist to gain credibility as a community leader and participator. However, as we've discussed in class, all opinions on these issues should be based on solid reporting.

While, getting politically active may not be high on the to-do list for students here at Simpson I would argue that based on Niles' advice, now is the time to start. Our Student Government Association makes decisions that affect the student body, so as student journalists we should be familiar and form opinions on these decisions. Hopefully, obtaining an understanding of politics now will pay off in the future.


Hanna Russmann April 13, 2010 at 8:49 AM  

I agree with the fact that journalists for local news should get invovled. Most people in smaller communities share the same views, and when those views are expressed in the news, they probably feel they more readily trust the news source.

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