Forget Whether Journalists Are Democrats or Republicans. The Important Question Is: "Are They Making a Difference?"

June 13, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
A recent Pew Research Center survey confirmed what most Americans already suspected: very few journalists (7 percent, to be exact) consider themselves "conservative."

At the risk of dashing the latest conspiracy theories on this overheated topic, Media Orchard will explain very simply (1) why this is the case, and (2) why this is a non-issue in 2005.

1. Journalists generally donít enter the profession to make a boatload of money. If money was their goal, they would apply their college educations and insatiable curiosity in more profitable directions. Young people enter journalism, for the most part, because they want to make a difference. Their egos are fed not by the money they make, but by the impact they have. Journalists have impact by causing change. And change is inherently anti-conservative, in the true sense of that word. (Itís important to note that being anti-conservative does not equate to being anti-Republican, although more Republicans than Democrats tend to be conservative.)

2. While individual journalists tend to push for change, virtually all major media organizations are owned by large corporations that are inherently conservative. There are a small handful of exceptions, but for the most part, todayís media companies have a strong interest in maintaining the status quo.

The result: individual media members and their corporate owners are fundamentally at cross-purposes ó like an evenly divided Congress that produces mostly gridlock.

The media is in gridlock today, compared to 30 years ago. Do you think a Woodward and Bernstein could emerge today? In 2005, the media too often allows the two major political parties to dictate the agenda, instead of acting as an independent "fourth estate."

Media Orchard suspects that our countryís best hope may be a return to the advocacy journalism so important to our countryís growth and success. "Advocacy journalism" doesnít mean radio or TV personalities who spout their political partyís talking points and pretend itís their own opinion. True advocacy journalism was exemplified by the reform newspapers of the 19th century ó like William Lloyd Garrisonís Liberator, which beat the drum of abolitionism for three decades before the rest of the country came around.

Bloggers have a better chance of being this centuryís William Lloyd Garrisons than traditional journalists do. Bloggers can afford to be truly independent. They can be the journalist-advocates for critical but neglected issues, such as poverty, the environment, increasing rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, our collapsing health-care system, and many, many others.

All bloggers should take advantage of this opportunity to have an impact.