Editorial | Why student journalism matters
April 25, 2021
Employment cuts. Revenue losses. Readership decreases. Trust declines. This isn’t news; newspapers across the country are dying.
At the frontline of this, what seems like a battle, are local media companies. The Daily Illini, being both local and student run, stands with few weapons and not enough armor to be at the forefront.
I went into journalism because I saw the power that stories shared with a public can carry. I saw stories being uncovered after years of hiding in the shadows, local elections swaying due to investigative work, unfamiliar faces of a community coming to the surface, group engagement growing to support a cause and people speaking out for the first time on a topic of importance.
To me, that is what journalism is: a democratic, civic duty that not only informs a community but acts as an adhesive to it. It’s an integral part of a functioning democracy, both a watchdog and a mirror.
But it doesn’t matter what journalism means to me. Perhaps I have too much of a slanted view to convince anyone of its importance. What matters most is understanding the power it has carried for each member of a community. What would happen if all local news outlets went under? Who would deliver day-to-day information about churches, community events, local awards, local elections and schools? Who would bring attention to the voices of the community on a universal platform? Who would maintain an informed community?
My generation revolutionized the way in which information gets shared. It’s no longer about the newsstand, it’s about the device that sits so conveniently in our hands at all times. Nevertheless, the expectations of accuracy, timeliness, neutrality, diversity and transparency should not diminish. That is why journalism matters. Though information is easily accessible, non-journalistic sources of information shared online don’t always uphold these standards to the degree that journalists do. The Daily Illini teaches young journalists about these values before diving head-first into the “real” journalistic world. It gives them an opportunity to shape into the best version of themselves fit to serve a society.
On this day of awareness, we hope you hear and listen to us just as much as we have tried to hear and listen to you. April 25 is a single day dedicated to an issue that our newsroom has dealt with everyday for the past few years.
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