OKAY, so the title is a little brash. And everyone’s got an opinion about the fall of journalism, the great tragedy of the dying newspaper, the vacuum of local news media… but here’s one more, with a twist!

Let’s depart from all this mourning and woe-bearing, away from the image of the journalist laden with heavy wood cross, dragging it about for the benefit of the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong here. I love journalists, and I will sing them praises any day. But can we please stop pretending there’s something so precious about 20th century American journalism?

If we look at the state of the world today (or perhaps pre-2000 for the sake of argument), how effective has journalism been? How has the news industry served a noble role? Undoubtedly there were many issues (some we will never know) that came to resolution through both the active work of journalists and the realistic possibility of journalistic investigation. The processes and the social construction of journalism can have positive, wide-scale effects! However, what has journalism not been able to mitigate?

The rise of the corporation, the corruption of our government (sometimes of money, but mostly of dependence and influence), the continued destruction of the Earth’s environment (to a degree that threatens all life on the planet), illegal wars waged on the basis of no real evidence, and (of course) the list continues.

Journalism can’t–and shouldn’t–be held responsible for any of these things. But, these are things its practice has not been able to prevent. Great, all this argument and we’ve figured out journalism isn’t perfect–so what!?

Well, instead of mourning journalism, why not take this opportunity to reinvent it? Why not take this opportunity to create forms of journalism-esque practices that succeed where journalism has not?

Take for example that a dominant portion of journalism (with all its damn integrity) were for-profit ventures! Today we have the opportunity to support a non-profit journalism industry that is not fueled by sensations that supplement bottom-lines.

Further, and this is the crux of my argument, I suggest that in the stead of the independent, investigative journalist, there may rise the role of the 21st century activist. Using this word with caution (activist is a tricky one indeed), I mean to say that individuals with pointed goals, with narrower scopes of interest, can fulfill the roles (and more) of the 21st century journalist. Why? We can have more of them. So many more. The term activist has often been a specialized term, but the one I draft here is much more broad–anyone can be an activist, and we all should. No, we all must, else the misgivings of this last century continue through the next.

Advertisements