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Is journalism on its deathbed?

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Is journalism on its deathbed? We don’t know the answer for certain. But what we do know is that it’s losing support. And according to some, its credibility decreases every minute. 

But let’s step back and analyze. Maybe people are just afraid … and with good reason. 

There is a new piece of technology called “deepfakes” which allow the user to make it look and sound like someone said something that they never did. For example, someone could create a video of former president Barack Obama saying he wasn’t born in the United States. 

But this isn’t the only way the reader or viewer has been burdened.

Modern-day technology has allowed for conspiracy theorists and unreliable sources to share their specific beliefs to the world as easily as pushing a button. But is that ‘fake news?’

As the phenomenon known as fake news becomes a label utilized to discredit certain facts a reader may dislike, journalism is threatened. What once were merely unreliable sources have begun to publish and share ideas as if they are journalists and have also begun to attack the professional media.

Whether it be BBC or The Washington Post, the press does not report unless they have a clear understanding based on fact.

That said, just as it is a professional journalist’s responsibility to report verified facts, it is the reader’s responsibility to utilize proper sources, and take the time to differentiate between fact and fiction.

We understand that this is a lot to ask of the American people. Trust us, even the press has a hard time sometimes finding out what is true or false.

But how can we American citizens amend our trust issues that shouldn’t have been established in the first place? Here, technology can help.

May we present to you NewsGuard, a program that runs on Google Chrome which shows you which sources are reliable when you type something into your search engine. Think of it as a nutrition label for news.

Though we can put our trust in applications like NewsGuard, there are other ways we can continue to be educated and expand our understanding of the world around us without just a chrome extension.

We ask for readers of journalistic pieces to compare and contrast sources of information — don’t only scroll through one site or newspaper, read broadly. Have discussions with those around you about what you have read — and that means constructive and effective discussion, keeping ears and mind open.

But this isn’t one-sided. For all you journalists tuning in, (yes; that means you, David Muir) we ask for more transparency of the processes of the fourth estate. Show us your personalized author accuracy checks, fact-checking manners and code of ethics (we’ll talk about these soon). And, when you make a mistake, follow the fourth pillar of the Society of Professional Journalists ethical code — “Be accountable and Transparent.”

Understanding and seeing the decision-making processes and mind-numbing deliberation that goes on in order to write news could provide some comfort for those that read it.

The fact is that the fear of misinformation is overwhelming and has become increasingly potent.

Though the odds are stacked against revitalizing journalism in this time of societal polarization, the average journalist and citizen can only hope that we can come together again.

We refuse to believe that journalism is dead. All we need is your help to make sure it never flat lines—rather that it thrives.

And if reading the Talon religiously is your first step in doing so, we are infinitely grateful.