How the COVID-19 Pandemic Should Remind Us All of the Importance of Independent News Organizations

Journalists and news organizations are essential sources of information, especially in times of crisis. In the book, The Elements of Journalism, the authors list a series of essential principles and practices of journalism including Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. Its first loyalty is to citizens, and its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

These principles should resonate now more than ever. The global pandemic has forced all of us to pause. Confined to our homes and apartments, we’ve turned to the news at unprecedented rates (almost a 70% spike of traffic year over year, per Outbrain data). Whether it’s to stay on the pulse of local government restrictions, to stay informed of what’s happening in the regions of our loved ones across the globe, or to fact-check the rhetoric of world leaders and the science of medicine.

The internet has become both a blessing and a curse to professional journalism. The rise of misinformation and fake news across the internet has hurt the reputation of the publishing industry overall. According to a Pew Research Center survey in 2019, nearly seven-in-ten U.S. adults (68%) say made-up news and information greatly impacts Americans’ confidence in government institutions, and roughly half (54%) say it is having a major impact on our confidence in each other. But in times of crisis, like COVID-19, it’s evident how important journalists and newsrooms are to educating and informing consumers on fact from fiction.

Without a free and open independent press, who would we turn to in times like these to disseminate facts from fiction and be our source of truth?

Outbrain was built on the belief that an independent and free press is the foundation of a democratic society. That’s why, as events unfolded this year, we knew we had to thank the heroes in the newsrooms across the globe, working tirelessly to report on the COVID-19 pandemic. Often times putting themselves in harm’s way, to ensure the citizens of the world understood the seriousness and complexity of this horrible virus.

This thank you video is just a small way to thank everyone within publishing who is covering this pandemic. But there are more ways you and I can support your preferred news sites. Read more on that in my colleague’s post here.

As Harry Grunwald once said, “Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”

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