Our group visited several organizations this week that serve the journalism industry as protectors of individual journalists, as media watchdogs, and as investigative journalists: The Committee to Project Journalists, Columbia Journalism Review, and ProPublica. While the three organizations serve the industry differently, they all shared a common goal: to keep journalism honest and to make a way for journalists to reveal the truth to check power in the country and in the world.
We first visited CPJ. The timing of our visit was impeccable as Meryl Streep spoke to the good work of CPJ the night before while accepting her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. The CPJ supports individual journalists to help them continue their quest to report. Many of the cases the CPJ works on are arrests of journalists nationally and internationally. Reporters investigating and reporting on current events is far too important to the CPJ to leave journalists in jail. The CPJ recognizes and addresses the importance of a free press regardless of whether the countries arresting journalists like or dislike freedom of the press. The future promises the CPJ plenty of meaningful work.
The CJR reports on the media itself. The coverage of the media keeps media honest in the way they gather news and tell stories. With a president-elect who unabashedly makes statements against media, the CJR will be busy verifying the media and proving its trustworthiness to the American people. The members of the CJR understood the importance of their work approaching the inauguration of Donald Trump. The next four years will require media watch dogs like the CJR to keep faith in the American media.
ProPublica, while not directly protecting journalists or surveilling the media, strives to write hard-hitting, impactful investigative journalism. Several organizations brought of the prevalence of opinion-based journalism in the media. While informed opinions are beneficial, there is a need for investigative journalism to keep check of government and other powerful agencies and individuals. ProPublica is a nonprofit invested in stories that will change how systems operate or how people think which is what journalism is meant to do.
Journalism will continue to be a vital part of American culture despite changes in format or platform. Regardless of whether hard-hitting news is online or in paper, the purpose is to deliver the truth to the people. America seems to be particularly skeptical of the media right now which creates space for players like the CPJ, the CJR, and ProPublica to rebuild confidence in the American media.