How Journalists are Essential to Politics

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation in a speech about the state of affairs in Libya, including the nature and duration of American involvement. Important publications and individuals everywhere reported-- and many interpreted--the event.

Because of the increasing expanse of media available, it is likely that many more people than just those who listened and watched President Obama's address will encounter accounts of the speech somewhere.

Blogs are an increasingly reputable source of information about all sorts of topics. They can offer opinions, facts, and helpful summaries of occurrences in politics that citizens must be aware of in order for the U.S. to maintain a functional democracy.

Additionally, journalists help to disseminate messages of political and national importance throughout all levels of society. Journalism often makes information accessible to readers with very low reading levels. It can also make information accessible to people who may not have the capacity to follow all political discourse.

Journalists like Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza, writing for the Washington Post blog "The Fix," draw out themes for their readers who missed the speech, and also those who may want to go back to get a better understanding of what was said. The two also give context to the President's speech, giving the reader background on the conflict in Libya and the U.S.'s involvement.

Informative journalism like this often includes data from other sources that has been put into sentences that are easy to read and comprehend; in this instance, it's data about public perception of the conflict in Libya from the PEW research center.

Other news sources preemptively provide information for viewers before the event occurs. These are generally just-the-facts bulletins.

For these reasons and more, journalism is an essential part of cultural understanding of political events and discourse. Read up on events that you've missed, or events where you're left wondering about some important element or theme in the dialogue.

Photo courtesy of Hoshie via


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