Getting the Connections Right

Public Journalism and the Troubles in the Press

Jay Rosen
Release Date: February 1, 1996

Journalists around the country are wrestling with serious issues: the deterioration of public dialogue, the reduction of politics to a sporting match, the emptiness and cynicism that characterizes much of our public life, and the role of the press in all these trends. At the same time, the profession itself is facing economic decline, as well as challenges from new information and communication technologies that threaten to eclipse traditional journalism. What is a journalist to do?

Jay Rosen makes the case that journalists can avoid succumbing to these worrisome trends by practicing what is increasingly being called “public journalism.” Rather than compete with tabloid television, Rosen argues, journalists need to repair the disconnect between the press and the public; regarding political coverage in particular, journalists must reshape the narrative of public life. What is needed is a new connection between public and press, one in which the press recognizes its influence in public life and helps citizens to participate, fully informed and engaged.