Why I won’t be pursuing professional journalism

This month, I will be graduating from ASU with a degree in English literature and a certificate in the environmental humanities. During my studies, I gained a fair amount of experience in journalism by becoming employed at a start-up newspaper, creating my own local art publication and taking internships, including two semesters as a columnist with The State Press.

With no formal training, I struggled to enter the alluring world of journalism, which I romanticized as a profession in which reporters champion truth in the name of public good.

Sadly, I have since grown discouraged by my experience and this may be my last piece of writing published by a journalistic institution.

I will not be pursuing a career in professional journalism after graduation.

It is difficult to describe why I feel so deceived without citing specific examples of how the entities I’ve worked for have stepped outside of what I’d consider to be ethical journalism. The State Press, unfortunately, is not exempt from this. However, I am not writing to indict anyone.

There are issues that should be a concern to every one of us — not just as members of our community, residents of our state, or citizens of this country — but as members of the human collective.

From the local and regional level, to national and international alike, pressing issues go underreported every day, if they are reported at all.

Examples of these stories include the federal charges dropped from the investigation of Joe Arpaio, despite endless allegations of abuse of power and discriminatory practices, some of which involve hundreds of cases of sexual abuse gone uninvestigated.

On an international scale, the unprecedented amount of drone strikes in the Middle East under the Obama administration is absent from national headlines. Reports of civilian causalities and the legality of these attacks are rarely discussed in the public sphere.

Furthermore, the reality of global warming and its implications are muffled over anti-intellectual cries from the political right. The East Coast, meanwhile, as well as the American Midwest, struggles to overcome what have been the worst drought records and hurricane in our history.

The reality of the news media in this country is frightening and the underreported nature of the aforementioned issues is no coincidence. Ben Bagdikian writes in “The Media Monopoly” that only five corporations control 90 percent of the news you read, hear and watch.

This extends to a monopoly that oversees the vast majority of radio stations, billboards, basic channel stations, movies, newspapers, magazines, websites and advertising outlets.

By no means do I think that quality, honest journalism doesn’t exist. Even within these organizations, I believe that important work of public interest is produced. However, the precedents of corporate ownership being set show no signs of wavering and the loss of regional, independent outlets is alarming.

These six companies, comprised of General Electric, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS are not only media giants, but are also incredible lobbying forces that drastically influence legislation.

Since 2008, they have spent roughly $283.5 million in lobbying policymakers and elections to ensure that they gain and keep control of the media. Like in many other facets of our society, Big Business has thrust concern for public access to fair information to the sidelines.

If journalism has a place within this consolidated media market, wrought with corporate control and monopolizing of information transfer, then I certainly don’t want to be a part of it.

 

Reach the columnist at damills3@asu.edu or follow him at @Dan_iel_Mills

 

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