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Thomas Jefferson’s Present Relevance

February 8, 2010

Voicing a concern respecting the changing news industry, Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower speaks of the evolution of news mediums and predicts the future media landscape. Despite current popular belief, Harrower does not believe that it is time for the newspaper’s obituary. In my opinion a quote spoken by Thomas Jefferson best supports Harrower’s argument. Thomas Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” A former president’s willingness to sacrifice government for newspapers illustrates the significant role of journalists and the industry.

Jefferson’s statement speaks to the journalists’ responsibility to maintain a democratic society. In order to preserve a democracy, newspapers must either present objective and unbiased stories. If a newspaper is biased toward one political party, another newspaper must exist to present the opposing view.  While Jefferson’s view of newspapers does not suggest the death of newspapers, he also promotes fair news, which is becoming a lost form. Although newspapers do still exist, news organizations are moving away from objectivity and beginning to support a political party.  As journalists neglect their responsibility to maintain a democratic society, readers’ role must alter in turn.

In order to sustain democracy, readers must acknowledge that not all newspapers are objective. If reading a partisan newspaper, readers need to find the same story in order to receive the contrasting view.

Although newspapers are still in existence, the public should still consider how applicable his statement is currently.

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