The View From Here: With Jeanita Lyman, editor in chief

What is journalism? What is news?

These are the very basic questions we’re asked early on in Skyline’s journalism program. They’re becoming increasingly difficult to answer, but one thing is certain about today’s media landscape: There’s a lot of crap out there.

When it comes to getting our news, we don’t know who to trust anymore. Regardless of our personal political beliefs, we can all agree that much of what is classified as news in today’s media is typically fear-mongering and biased at worst and trivial at best. As media companies merge into big, shiny, sterilized conglomerates, eating up independent news outlets along the way, the news we’re presented with is increasingly depersonalized and out of touch with what we want or need.

We’re constantly faced with the unflattering reflection of what media outlets think we want. Stories about things like hot felons, “blue or black” dresses, poorly-behaved young pop stars, and Donald Trump dominate the headlines. That’s because these stories garner attention, thereby garnering advertisers. That is the only reason they exist. It’s not because they’re the most important topics of our time or nothing else is going on. It’s just plain business.

Good reporting hasn’t fallen by the wayside, and if anything, the internet has made it easier for determined reporters to illuminate and publish important stories. But given that it’s saturated with disconnected, conglomerate-produced material and abhorrently stupid viral content while infused with a minefield of hoaxes, good stories rarely get the attention they deserve.

People are completely justified in being skeptical and jaded about the news. The newspaper industry’s conglomeration and gradual absorption into the virtual world have resulted in news coverage turning into something of an awkward circus, and no one is sure what exactly to do. The sobering effect of this is an under-informed population. Despite the vast amount of information at our fingertips, it’s more difficult than ever to find objective coverage of important issues. In a democratic society where we vote on important issues, this is extremely dangerous.

A change in the way journalism is done has become inevitable, which is something the industry has realized. But that change is still being defined and it’s not yet clear exactly what direction we’re heading. It will be up to those of us now entering the industry to determine how to move forward.