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The Mechanics
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Chicago Tue May 26 2009

Why Does Media Matter?

iFC-8022I recently had the opportunity to go to a town hall meeting hosted by the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and listen to a panel of prominent journalists (pictured left, photo from IFC) discuss why media matters. The town hall meeting is part of IFC's pro-social initiative "Make Media Matter" which raises awareness about the vital role media plays in our lives, society and world.

In the wake of the economic crisis and political unraveling in Chicago, media is more important than ever. As Attorney General Lisa Madigan boldly stated in her introduction to the panel, "media makes democracy work; without it, who would hold the government accountable for their actions?"

Over the past couple of years, the way we absorb our news has drastically changed, and will continue to do so. Today, many people read their news online, newspapers are cutting staff and other media are beginning to consolidate their resources. When the panel was asked what they think of the changes Carl Bernstein, known for breaking the Watergate story for The Washington Post, said (and other panelists agreed) that he is less concerned with the format and delivery of the news than with conserving the standards of American journalism.

As newsrooms continue to shrink, the need for great American journalism is greater than ever in Chicago. Without it, Madigan says, "it's too easy for the government to dodge the public and there is too much secrecy. Transparency is the foundation for any effective government reform."

Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune, went on to say that "disruptive change sweeps across all human institutions at some point and we have to adapt. We have to be public advocates and hold those in power accountable." Panelists unanimously agreed that while more and more content is moving online, newspapers aren't going anywhere anytime soon and the most important thing is that the news gets delivered - regardless of the medium.

It's refreshing to hear, in the middle of so much transition, that when it comes down to it, what's really important is good reporting and, as Bernstein said, "finding the most obtainable version of the truth."

It's impossible to define why media matters to all people. Some people are looking for hard news, some people are interested in commentary and some people are looking for celebrity gossip. Whatever it is, there's a place for all media outlets - newspapers, blogs, radio, television, Twitter, etc.

So you tell us, why does media matter to you?

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Good Luck / May 27, 2009 1:12 PM

Why yes, imagine how democracy would have been served if the LA Times had released the videotape of Barack Obama attending an anti-semetic conference. Or how democracy would be served if the New York Times chose not quash a story detailing how the Obama campaign illegally worked hand in hand with ACORN on campaign donation lists (in violation of campaign finance law)...

It goes both ways. Transparency is worthless if there is some arbitrary decider of what is allowed to see the light of day.

The hurried decline of the king/myth-making side of media has been enjoyable.

With the economic crisis, journalists generally have no grasp of economics, so I can't agree that having a group of laypeople trying to pass themselves off as credible sources is a worthwhile venture.

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