How has Journalism Changed the World?
Written by Owen Hu January 13th 2022
It’s well known that the world has changed journalism over the past few decades: the internet has fundamentally shifted journalism into the digital age. However, it’s less well known how journalism has changed the world. From exposing government corruption all around the globe to giving a voice to the voiceless, journalism has been a crucial factor in connecting, informing, and inspiring an oftentimes ignorant world to move to a better future.
Perhaps the most recent example would be the leaking of the Panama Papers, a collection of personal financial information of affluent individuals and government officials. The whistleblower who leaked the papers was part of a journalism ideal that put this exposé in the public’s eye. In a time when many of the affected individuals and governments largely ignored this leak, it was journalism that informed the public on decades-long corruption, persuading the world to be better. The Panama Papers leak, which was as recent as 2016, mirrored a similar ordeal back in the 1970s: journalism was the mechanism through which the public was informed of the Watergate Scandal, which upended American politics with President Richard Nixon’s administration being thoroughly investigated for a cover-up. In both cases, journalism helped bring to light wrongdoings that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
In other events, journalism directly inspired citizens to fight for change. On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia, protesting the economic, political, and social turmoils of his nation. With this period corresponding to the rise of mobile devices, journalists quickly picked up the story, and Bouazizi’s self-immolation spread like wildfire throughout social media and news platforms, reaching millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa. Not only did journalism broaden the voice of one citizen, it also helped serve as the catalyst that gave rise to the Arab Spring, a series of protests and uprisings that inspired millions of citizens to engage in anti-government demonstrations in a fight for change. By expanding the ideal of revolution to reach millions, journalism brought change to both the world and media, enhancing the way citizens viewed the world and beyond.
There are numerous more examples of journalism's impact. From refugee crises all over the world to a natural disaster in the Caribbean, deforestation in the Amazon to ethnic tensions in Asia, journalism has been there to cover the events and share it to the world, raising awareness and prompting people to take action. The truth is, the problems of the world cannot be solved without journalism’s constant push for change to come. It is journalism that secures the world, even when events happen on the opposite side of the globe. It is journalism that enlightens the world, at a time when ignorance has begun to run rampant. It is journalism that motivates the world, fighting for change to come. In these ways, journalism does what it does best extremely well: connect, inform, and inspire.
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Rottlaender, Daniel. “5 Times Journalists Changed the World for the Better.” The Odyssey Online, 23 May 2016, www.theodysseyonline.com/5-times-journalists-changed-the-world-for-the-better. Accessed 13 Jan. 2022.
The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Arab Spring.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 14 Jan. 2015, www.britannica.com/event/Arab-Spring.
Wass, Sanne. “Five Ways Journalism Can Make the World a Better Place.” Journalismisnotacrime.com, 3 May 2016, journalismisnotacrime.com/en/features/1197/. Accessed 13 Jan. 2022.