Dear readers new and old, welcome to—or welcome back to—your student newspaper, The Augustana Mirror. I am Jacob Knutson, your editor-in-chief for the academic year.
It is perhaps obvious to say that the past few years have been turbulent for journalism.
According to Gallup polls, the percentage of Americans who said they were confident in newspapers sunk to an all-time low in 2016 (20 percent, down from 24 percent in 2015), and the number hardly recovered in 2017 (27 percent.)
Simultaneously, the occupants of the highest offices in our country have called news outlets the “enemy of the people,” and this Stalinist phrase has trickled down to every rung of journalism, from local papers to massive media companies. The press may screw up or overstep at times but calling the press “the enemy of the people” is never warranted.
Meanwhile, economic pressures on the media industry are disrupting newsrooms across the country. Outlets around the nation, and even here at Augustana, have been forced to cut budgets and fire employees to stay afloat and viable.
Pundits, journalists and citizens often oversimplify journalism’s current predicament when they say these occurrences mark the death of journalism. Journalism, since its formation, has faced and weathered similar threats.
These events, however, certainly do confuse the future of journalism, but they are not digging its grave. They are changing the profession, bolstering some forms of media and hindering others. Right now, the market is favoring papers that prioritize digital content, and traditional print newspapers are suffering. This is true locally, nationally and globally.
Whether these changes are for the better is unknown. This uncertainty is a blessing and a curse as it allows us the opportunity to ensure that the changes are for the better, that they create a robust institution ready to inform and entertain the public. And we need your help to do so.
Journalism has long perpetuated the arrogant narrative of the lone journalist who transforms his society with his sheer resilience and pen. The truth is that these instances are rare. The truth is that, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to write, enjoy and support journalism.
You, the Augustana community, can support us by reading our hard work, respectfully criticizing us when we produce subpar work and highlighting news on campus that we have overlooked.
We, in turn, will continue to work for your trust by producing informative content and righting errors when they emerge.
From all the editors and staff of the Augustana Mirror, thank you and have a wonderful academic year.
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