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The Internet's Threat to Democracy

Journalism is a key component of a successful, open democracy. Journalists have helped uncover some of the most controversial and corrupt scandals in American history, including but not limited to Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal and the sex abuse crimes committed by the Catholic archdiocese of Boston. However, we face a serious threat to our democracy as constant access to the internet has revolutionized and hijacked frequent consumption of high quality of news. Although online and cable news have dominated journalism for many years at this point, both of these mediums cite print newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post more often than not and very rarely do their own journalistic research.

Simultaneously, as Americans began consuming news more from Facebook, the internet, and cable TV rather than print media, where advertisers invest their money has also shifted to the digital. The amount of ad revenue that print media sources bring in has been steadily declining, as it is now more profitable for advertisers to showcase themselves in online media, where viewership is higher than ever and information about consumers is easily collected. This leaves print media sources at a tremendous financial loss, for they have to rely almost solely on subscriber fees to stay afloat.

This, too, presents a problem, as subscriptions to print media sources have also been declining because much of the online news sources today, such as The Huffington Post and Politico, are free. It is a sad, yet undeniable truth, that the longer people are able to consume news for free, the less willing they will be to pay for it in the future.

Some might say that although we are seeing a decline in the influence of print media while online media is booming, this will simply just allow these newer online news sources to replace the old print news juggernauts as the leaders in the journalism field. Although this may be the case many years down the line, it is still the reality that the quality of reporting of these newer, online media organizations produce is incomparable to the quality a source like The New York Times produces.

Additionally, this shift will cause both the struggling print media sources and the newer online media sources to report stories that are more likely to achieve extremely high viewership rather than reporting important stories that will impact our lives. This puts journalism in a sort of limbo that will more than likely cause the public to be even more misinformed and our leaders to be more able to abuse power.

This lack of sufficient reporting is a recipe for corruption in our government, and in an administration as controversial as Donald Trump’s, it is more important than ever to have a strong press and access to information that holds the government accountable. In the eyes of this young journalist, we all need to do our part to preserve our free and open democracy by coughing up a few dollars to subscribe to a major, accountable newspaper, whether it be in print or an online version. Every subscriber helps journalism thrive and enlighten the public, and as The Washington Post’s slogan says, "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

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