A matter of fact.

Author:Beasley, Sandra

Works in Progress


Has any institution in American life been more endangered by the rise of the Internet than serious newspaper journalism? What are the implications for American democracy if our best papers don't pull out of the economic tailspin that has resulted in large buyouts or the layoffs of careful and experienced journalists? Where will the sort of reliable reporting that is now routinely poached by television and the Internet come from? Journalist Bill Kovach, who is a senior counselor to the Project for Excellence in Journalism and a founder of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, has long pondered these problems. He is a former Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, a former editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He offers a dozen questions on the future of journalism--and of our democracy.


  1. Has language been freed of journalism's unelected gatekeepers only to fall prey to those who proclaim and propagandize, who offer self-serving advertisements or self-referential assertions rather than the kind of independently verified information that emerged from the Age of Enlightenment?


  2. Will political advertisements, YouTube videos, and television comedians such as Jon Stewart supplant the printed word as the preferred form of communication about public affairs?

  3. When news devolves into a fragmented private dialogue among family and friends in cyberspace, can journalists think of new ways to help people make sense of overabundant, undifferentiated information?

  4. Do journalists recognize that distribution is now determined by the portability of technology and by the end user, and that reported material and analysis must now be organized to serve many differing audiences?

  5. Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand said that in a democratic society we "have staked everything on the rational dialogue of an informed electorate," and philosopher Hannah Arendt added that "freedom of opinion is a farce unless factual information is guaranteed." How, then, can journalists use interactive technology to help citizens participate in verification and discussion? Can new tools...

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