by Mia Shou ’23
Published Oct. 10th, 2022
For forty years, Jeff German embodied journalism’s pursuit of the truth as he covered corruption and misconduct in Las Vegas.
As a result, the industry lost an honest brand of reporting that is often hard to come by in a polarized, fake-news-riddled media network.
Ultimately, the Internet and social media are to blame. Today, “everybody has [the ability] to be a newsmaker,” said Keith Glock, a guidance counselor and former sports journalist for the Trenton Times.
The media wasn’t always like this. In the early 2000’s, even “text messaging [wasn’t what it was] then what it is now,” said Mr. Glock. Instead, reporters had to call home phone numbers just to confirm a simple fact.
Because of this, media companies struggled to adapt to the digital age. Take the Trenton Times as an example. “Somebody said to our publisher, ‘What is your plan for our transition to the internet?'” said Glock. The publisher’s response? “Don’t worry, the Internet is not going to take off.”
Now, newspapers are dying. “[They] never figured out how to monetize consumption,” said Mr. Glock. Previously, papers used to be the go-to for job and real estate listings. However, that utility was stolen by the internet, discouraging people from buying newspapers and causing outlets to prioritize sensationalism and profit over honesty. According to Glock, some even began to put a decreased emphasis on fact checking.
Despite this, the precedents Mr. German set aren’t completely lost– but there’s a lot of work to do.
A possible solution would be for journalists to apply to news outlets “which [they] believe deliver news in the least slanted way possible,” said Glock. However, as Jennifer Gu, a senior, said, “A lot of people that want to be journalists go in with the mindset that they want to be authentic as a writer, but […] trying to find a job and keeping [it] makes [authenticity difficult].” For them, the most promising employer is a potentially biased news conglomerate.
Another solution would be to teach how to identify fake news in-school. “[It] needs to be woven into [the] curriculum naturally,” said Glock. For example, Gu recommended adding more discussions about current events and the relevance of misinformation in all humanities classes.
Although there isn’t a single solution to fake news, it’s clear that preserving journalism will be a team effort in which every word and action matters.