JOURNALISM IN JEOPARDY: WHY THIS THREATENS OUR DEMOCRACY, AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

Over the past 15 years in Wisconsin, 77 newspapers have closed, and circulation is down by one million. Yet, we are increasingly inundated with group e-mails, Facebook posts, tweets, and other forms of social media containing comments and accusations that are meant to sway opinions but have not undergone the rigorous fact-checking process which is at the core of investigative journalism. Ideologically focused news and commentary create further confusion and polarization.

On this program, Andy Hall and Dee J. Hall, co-founders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, describe the ways in which journalism is in jeopardy today and why this puts our democracy at risk. When newspapers die, they say, there is less voting, fewer candidates for office, reduced voter knowledge of congressional candidates, more wasteful government spending and corruption, more pollution, and increased political polarization.

What can we do to strengthen democracy and journalism? According to the Halls, it is imperative to assess the quality of news we receive by checking sources, seeking independent confirmation and supporting documents or data, transparent funding, unnamed sources and corrections, and partisanship. They encourage people to avoid living in a news bubble, and get involved in issues they care about.

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