Journalism 101

The News Media and Democracy

Democracy needs a press and media system that strengthens democracy by providing information to citizens. But freedom alone does not guarantee the realization and/or enhancement of democracy as a way of life and as a way of governance.

The exercise of sovereign power in a democracy demands being informed on vital issues. The press is supposed to provide the information relevant to the exercise of democratic choice and sovereignty. Journalism is the calling mandated to provide that information.

In meeting that mandate, journalism abides by a set of principles to guide practitioners.

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strike to make the significant interesting and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.
  10. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.

SOURCE: Kovach & Rosenstiel, “The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect,” April 2007

Journalism is therefore essentially a public service that ideally empowers citizens to provide for their needs.

Further Readings:

NEXT: Case Studies

Produced by the Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility
Supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

This module is free and open for anyone to access. Materials from this module can be used as long as proper credit is given.


What is Media Literacy?

Know Your Freedom

Journalism 101

Case Studies