Is it time to worry about the First Amendment right to freedom of the press?
A study published by the Pew Research Center in June surveyed nearly 12,000 journalists working in the United States. While 70% admit to being very or somewhat satisfied with their job, and 77% would choose to pursue a career in journalism, 72% used a word with a negative connotation – “difficulty” and “chaos” were common – when asked. asked to describe their industry in one word.
Journalists interviewed worry about widespread misinformation, like-minded people getting information from the same sources, and future restrictions on press freedom.
More than half of journalists surveyed (57%) say they are extremely or very concerned about the prospect of imposing press restrictions in the United States
The idea of a United States of America without freedom of the press is incomprehensible to me.
I work full-time in journalism, but that’s not what I always did or even what I did in school, and I had to fight for my place from the start.
I took a paid writing job producing weekly sports articles for the town newspaper. For several years, I provided weekly season coverage for the high school hockey team. I typed each story on a word processor, producing a hard copy which I returned by slipping it under the newspaper’s office door late at night. I was making $15 per article at the time.
I went to college and forgot to write for pay. I have written in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Over time, writing took a back seat as I struggled early in my career. I left sports medicine and went into marketing, which led to a position with a parent magazine company working with two monthly publications. I was a writer again.
Fast forward several years to a new city, where I approached a similar parenting magazine looking for a job. To my delight, they offered me to write freelance. Finally, a chance to get back to writing paid work, and a chance to do it for the type of publication I was already familiar with.
As my portfolio grew, so did the opportunities to diversify what I was writing about and for whom. What led me to Log recordingand four years of freelance work that eventually evolved into a full-time position.
Although my career as a journalist has not been traditional, it is a career that has also become my passion. But the polled answers from my peers are valid – it’s a tough time to be in the press.
Misinformation is endemic. Unreliable internet sources of information, especially those perpetuated by social media, are everywhere. People want news in TikTok clips rather than the detailed accounts of a printed newspaper. So many print media are struggling to understand the digital world, and the struggle is not over.
What can we do?
Support the press. Educate yourself and others on what is real news and what is not. Contribute and interact with the media through opinion pieces, letters to the editor and more. And at election time, consider the First Amendment and what your candidates support. The future of press freedom depends on it.
Jennifer Sharpe is the Special Projects Editor for The Journal Record.