The Queen had good things to say about journalists this week: “The Covid-19 pandemic has once again demonstrated what an important public service the established news media provides, both nationally and regionally.”
Her family hasn’t always been so pro-press, so it was nice to hear.
Her comments were to mark the start of Journalism Matters week and she was, of course, totally right.
Just imagine a world without professional journalists…
1. Bad stuff would go unchecked.
Governments don’t blow the whistle on themselves. Can you think of a major revelation about serious wrongdoing and corruption, that negatively impacted large numbers of people and that subsequently led to significant beneficial changes to government and society being enacted, that wasn’t the result of newspaper campaigning? Without the press, bad stuff is perpetuated. (For great examples of the difference journalism makes, on both sides of the Atlantic, see here and here.)
2. Truth would be whatever the government deemed it to be.
Even with a free press, we can’t trust governments, democratically elected or otherwise, to give it to us straight. Just witness the ever-changing timeline of President Trump’s Covid diagnosis. Without the press to question and fact-check, Americans and Brits might well be forgiven thinking their country’s response to Covid was as “world-beating” as their governments kept telling them it was.
3. The “machine” would always win and the little guy always lose.
In one of our recent podcasts, Ciar Byrne asked Ian Murray what he was most proud of from his years editing the Southern Daily Echo. He replied: “championing the cause of those that didn't have a strong voice… getting justice for people who were struggling, usually against the machine, the local council, because they were just a number.”
Without a free press, the outlook would be bleak…
The press isn’t perfect, but just consider the dystopian alternative.
(Finally, we are putting together the mailing list for the Sep/Oct issue of InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the list, please register here.)