Posted by: KarenOStein | October 23, 2017

You Get What You Ask For: The Responsibilities of Citizen and Journalist in the Public Cultural Arena

In our society, we place a great deal of responsibility and blame on the media. It is appropriate to examine, however, our role as consumers of information and ask whether we are holding ourselves accountable for the information we receive.

The perspective offered by Wendy Barger and Ralph Barney in Media-Citizen Reciprocity as a Moral Mandate is an optimistic vision of the ideal relationship between the journalist and citizen in a democracy—standing in stark contrast to our current relationship with the U.S. news media.

In this ecosystem of mutual obligation, both journalists and citizens bear responsibility for acquisition, dissemination, and consumption of information. The journalists’ role is to listen, investigate, share, and provide context for the facts they publish—acting in the capacity of both facilitator and educator. The citizens’ role is to expose themselves to diverse ideas from a plurality of media sources, express their information needs by responding to the media through letters, calls, and comments, and defend the media’s independence from corporate and political pressures.

The goal is to create a public cultural environment in which the citizenry learns about, debates, and attempts to solve pressing issues. In the process, we protect the democracy from forces that would maintain the status quo, and effect positive societal change—to “knit, rather than rip, the fabric of a healthy democratic society.” As beneficiaries of such a society, it is our moral responsibility to begin the work of balancing the scales. The question is: where do we start?

 

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