The Value of Journalism in a Free Society

Between 1992 and 2018, 1,949 journalists and media workers around the world have been killed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Perhaps this seems like a far-removed number that only considers war-torn countries; but the truth is that the number represents journalists who were attacked in democracies as well. In the United States, 14 reporters were attacked while covering protests, five journalists were killed, and in 2017, two reporters were assaulted by politicians, according to the United States Press Freedom Tracker’s website.

In light of today’s climate of antagonistic rhetoric and actions directed at journalism, Agents of Change brought together a panel of experts to discuss The Value of Journalism in a Free Society. The event was held on September 24, 2018 at Le Jardin Academy in Kailua, Hawaii.

The panel included Ann Auman, Professor, Journalism Program, University of Hawai`i School of Communications who was joined by Bill Dorman, HPR News Director; Denby Fawcett, Honolulu Civil Beat columnist; Joel Saito, Humanities Teacher, Le Jardin Academy; and David Butts, City Editor, The Star Bulletin. Moderated by Le Jardin Academy’s Theory of Knowledge teacher, Christina Hoe, a lively discussion ensued on how decisions are made within different media, what is a credible news source, how to spot biases and the value of journalism.

Attended by community members, teachers, students, journalists and politicians, the event was well received. All actively joined the conversation assessing our news industry and what our individual roles should be in seeking out the best information. The discussion turned to a better understanding of what makes credible news sources, evaluating topics worthy of further research, the impact of social media as well as distinguishing between news information versus opinion, propaganda, satire and fake news. The event concluded with a coherent message that individuals must take an active role in seeking out information from multiple sources, supporting accredited news organizations and participating in the process of democracy, especially by voting.

Be an active member of our democracy and join us as a changing agent of the future.

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