People today have doubts about the credibility of journalism when it is described as a profession. Scholars have sought to point out the mistakes that are made in the practice of journalism within the public space by those who have been given the responsibility of performing its functions to the benefit of the public they serve.
Now the word profession has several definitions as a synonym for occupation, which is any typically full-time activity defined in part by an easily recognizable body of knowledge, skill, and judgment or “discipline” by which one can earn a living. In recent years the standard of journalisms, journalists and media houses have come under fire because of the misplaced priorities of the current generation of holding the fort. With the commercialization of media houses profit making has taken over as the main function of journalism today. Journalists have taken to entertaining citizens instead of protecting their interests and wellbeing. Entertainment stories, click bait and tabloid sensationalism has come back with a vengeance from before, and is dominating the scene. These now serve as the matters of public interest since the media has trained citizens to not care about issues of reality and essence such as government and health issues.
A person of interest, named Brain McNairy, described a journalist as an individual who is engaged in the activity of gathering, processing and disseminating information. To narrow it down to the specifics a journalist is an individual who is tasked with finding well sourced news worthy materials concerning the society at large and informing the society about itself, in all its diversity.
Journalists are tasked with serving the public interests of the citizens; and Public interest is simply anything that matters to every individual in the society. The interests of the public are the common good, security and their general welfare and is responsible for detecting and exposing crime and serious impropriety as well as protecting the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organization.
The ideologies of the current generation has negatively affected the two primary functions of the journalist at the moment. Journalists are no longer concerned with the fact checking and fact reporting that dominated the rules of proper Journalism before the start of the twenty first century. Journalists and their media houses have fallen into the habit of promoting sensationalism within their headlines, a abit tat proper journalism oped to combat. Journalists are supposed to perform their main purpose, which is simply to inform citizens with the facts regarding the society they live in as a whole. Doing this brings about an understanding of the state of affairs of the society and helps the citizens formulate opinions and self over themselves. Yet this task has fallen down the way side and been overtaken by the need to promote any story, whether factual or otherwise in an effort to stir emotions and bring in sales.
The performance of their watchdog role has also been jeopardized as media houses are now the spokespeople or individuals and organizations whose field of work clashes with the public interests of people. Journalists have stopped caring about this role and have jeopardized the stability of democracy as well as freedom of their citizens by siding with politicians, rebel leaders, dictators and autocrats as well as capitalists organizations that often threaten the legitimacy of democracy in order to make profit. Our watch dogs are now hiding their deceit, misleading the citizens and promoting their self-interests.
How can journalists perform their role in serving the public interest? Journalists should provide citizens with information to form their own opinions and allow the citizens depend on them to perform a watchdog role in the society. They must simply report the truth, while maintaining an unbiased opinion in order to promote democracy. By doing this the journalist is serving the interest of the public and promoting the reality of a safe fully functional society.