Alternative Radio: Journalism and the Crisis of Democracy

Stop the presses! Breaking News! Journalism is dying! The terms seismic shifts and tectonic plates moving are overused but they certainly apply to journalism today. The venerable fourth estate is an endangered species. Newspapers, like the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, which was around for 150 years, have closed. Many others are threatened. Foreign reporting, never a strong suit, is getting worse. Bureaus are being cut back or eliminated. The demise of journalism, particularly investigative journalism, would have major implications for the functioning of our increasingly parlous democracy. If politicians and corporations, bankers and financiers know that there is no one looking at and reporting on what they are doing then corruption, which already exists, will increase exponentially. The masters will go unchallenged. Unless a new economic model emerges, print journalism as we've known it, will cease to exist. Robert McChesney is co-founder of the Free Press, a non-profit organization working to increase public participation in media policy debates. He is professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Author of numerous books including "Rich Media, Poor Democracy" and "The Problem of the Media," his latest is "The Political Economy of Media."

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