Former Nieman Curator and 1989 Nieman Fellow Bill Kovach received the 2010 W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism from the National Press Foundation on February 16. In choosing Kovach, the NPF judges noted, “Perhaps no one in his time has more epitomized the values of our profession—the sense that journalism must be tough but fair, uncompromising but humane, and above all searching, always asking more questions—than Bill Kovach.”
Journalism does more than keep us informed—it enables us to have our voices heard in the chambers of power that shape our lives.
In the past few decades this responsibility has become more vital and more difficult because of the revolution in communications technology filling the world with a flood of undifferentiated information changing the audience for news from passive receivers to pro-active consumers of what they want, when they want it and how they want it.
It is a system filling with views of reality designed to distract us or to control and dictate our public behavior rather than inform our independent judgment.
A new journalism is required to assure that our view of the world is constructed with the integrity and reliability self-government requires.
Too many of us have wasted time trying to ignore the challenges and failing to recognize the opportunities of the new technology. The technology that has produced a spontaneously networked society; has produced a crowd sourcing society hungry for more not less information. A society increasingly searching for information that can be believed.
Since there is no guarantee that journalists will be at the right place at the right time to report important events the new journalism must be more open to both amateur and professional reporters.
Somewhere each day another site moves a step closer to becoming either direct competition or a valuable new addition to the legacy press.
The next journalism must be open to blogs and emails hammering like fists on the door to be let into the conversation to add information, to raise new questions, to suggest new context.
Our job now is to convince the public of the value of an independent journalism of verification and invite them to join us in producing the news that matters and provides the information we all need. What the Hutchins Commission called “the truth about the facts.”