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Observer Editorial: Journalism matters

| Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve seen coverage of the 2020 presidential election. Many Americans turned to cable news channels such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News for updates, hoping to hear the latest race calls and calculate the margins each candidate would need to win the electoral votes of a certain district or state.

These updates were delivered — efficiently and accurately — by journalists who worked tirelessly to provide commentary for the American people.

The efforts of these journalists garnered national attention, specifically MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki and CNN’s John King and their use of interactive maps to convey election results. The term “chartthrobs” was coined, a testament to the way these men were immediately idolized by the public. However, now that election coverage is slowing down, these love letters to journalists have come to a halt.

They shouldn’t.

With a 24-hour news cycle, journalists are under pressure to work around the clock to convey accurate and engaging information to the American public. Starting Nov. 3, this cycle became a week-long sprint to be the first to report election results. Journalists worked for nearly a week straight without breaks to provide accurate information to not only Americans but people around the world who were eagerly awaiting results.

The recognition of this hard work should not stop after the height of coverage. The work of journalists is never done, even when the appreciation for coverage fades.

As consumers of the news, it can be so easy to take information in and move along without acknowledging the extensive time and thought dedicated to researching and editing the final product. Even now, journalists in Nevada are tweeting county by county updates of ballot counting, and journalists in Georgia are providing updates of the upcoming legal battles that are sure to happen in the state. Journalists in Arizona are still working to debunk misinformation claiming that ballots completed in Sharpie would not be counted.

Journalists of all areas, skill sets and levels work tirelessly to tell the stories of their communities, sometimes going without recognition. Working to uncover the truth and report it accurately is a hallmark of the industry, whether it be on a college campus, in a small town or for a national audience.

Too often, the work of journalists is denounced as “fake news” and blamed for partisan divisions in American society. And yet, without journalists, many Americans would not be informed to the same extent they currently are, and misinformation would run wild without any counter. Journalists do more than report the news — they also work to root out misinformation and provide empirical evidence for public access. Journalists witness and record history as it unfolds in everyday life, seeking to provide accurate information while striving to remain fair and impartial.

Often, it is easy to read an article and forget there is a person behind the words. As people, we sometimes make mistakes. Like with any person with considerable responsibility, journalists deserve to be held accountable by their communities to ensure they provide fair and ethical coverage. We ask that you continue to do the same for us while remembering the students behind the content of our publication.

The presidential election coverage has started to slow down, but the importance of good reporting remains the same. Recognize and support the work of local journalists who cover everything in a community from a new church opening to restaurant closures due to the pandemic. Appreciate the regional and state-wide journalists who can explain the vote distribution in districts across a state and why ballot counting takes so long. Appreciate national journalists who report on what’s happening thousands of miles away and how those events can affect your life.

Appreciate journalists. Subscribe to your local paper. Remember journalism matters.

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