Not Just Journalism... It's Watchdog Journalism

In journalism, there is always the question of whether information that is being presented is credible. Stories you see on the news, social media, or from other sources bring us information that could greatly alter our day to day lives. But whose job is it to make sure that all these facts are correct? How do we know if the articles we are reading aren’t just completely made up?

These questions become all too real especially when the topic of government comes into play, these are the people who decide how our country is run and how we are allowed to live our lives. Recently, many people have been attributing the media or the press, with the position of that to watch over the government and make sure that things are being done honestly and correctly. This is described as the “watchdog” role, in the article “Amid Criticism, Support for Media’s ‘Watchdog’ Role Stands Out” they say that the “press acts as a watchdog by preventing political leaders from doing things that should not be done…” But outside of its’ important role as a watchdog, the press receives negative ratings from the public on performance measures. 67% of people say that news reports are inaccurate or tend to favor one side, 76% believe that they are influenced by powerful people and organizations (75%.) Due to this overall distrust in the press, more people have been turning to the internet to get their information.

When turning to the web for investigative journalism, you could either find an amazing story that is accurate and credible, or you could find one that was written by a friend of a friend of someone who heard a small part of the story which not credible whatsoever. A study done by PEW Research Center states that 50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news (TV still at number one with 69%.) When turning to the web you can get the information quickly and easily, yet most people still agree that the role of a traditional journalist is much more important than in the past to help make more sense of all the available news and information. This brings up the point that even though the internet may provide fast information, the typical role of the journalist to help find the facts that are credible, and will help the viewer make sense of all these facts is much more valuable than we realize.

Along with the deciphering of information, the journalist’s role as the watchdog is one that is extremely important. By more than three-to-one people, the public believes that news organizations criticism of political leaders keeps them from doing things that should not be done, in addition the public says that the media protects, rather than hurts, democracy. With such a strong force of people always watching the government, the people in charge know that they always have an eye on their back. This group of people is in charge of the well-being of our country and the media plays a very strong role in making sure that the privilege of running a democracy is not taken advantage of. One example of watchdog journalism can be found in a 2012 article by Rolling Stone. An unmanned aerial vehicle lifted off from Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan heading toward the border with Iran. Its mission: to spy on Tehran's nuclear program, as well as any insurgent activities the Iranians might be supporting in Afghanistan. Overall, there were many questions centered on the drone, but what the public did know what that the government lied about who was responsible for the drone. The military put out a press-release in Kabul saying that the drone was under their command but later the CIA was forced to admit their guilt. This is just one example of how a story was taken up by the media in order to inform citizens about what their government is doing wrong and hopefully influencing the government from continuing activities like this.

If I were to write an investigative article, the topic would most likely be something about how the student body here at Saint Martin’s University feels about tuition prices. For my sources I would send out an anonymous surveys through the SMU email and maybe even have an article on the Belltower’s webpage and have a link to the survey on there. I would also find a source that shows tuition prices of some other schools in Washington State as well as other small private schools that are similar to ours.

To conclude, the watchdog role of journalists is one that is so important and should not be looked over, without it the government might feel as though they could get away with things that they should not be doing. Based on the article written by PEW Research Center it seems as though this role and simply the journalist’s role in the media is one that has an iffy relationship. The public acknowledges these roles as very important ones, but when asked about their creditability they feel as though they are biased and often make mistakes in their reporting. Though there may be ups and downs when it comes to the media, their role as a watchdog is one that is very important and one that help keeps our public informed and the government on their toes.


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