Attacks on media aren’t new. But today’s reporters face an increasingly hostile environment. Charles Koch Foundation’s Sarah Ruger explores related trends in a USA Today commentary this morning noting an uptick in journalism school applications in recent years:
“There’s not enough information to confirm the trend in media criticism is driving j-school enrollment. But the latter may, at least, signal a generation drawn to an institution they realize is critical to social progress. Whether it’s a local reporter challenging a sheriff about high incarceration rates and police violence or a national news correspondent pushing an immigration and customs official to answer questions about border policy, the Fourth Estate is an essential check on power.
To agitate, investigate, and scrutinize our leaders and institutions—that ability is the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship. That freedom cannot be selective.
According to the most recent Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy, more than 80 percent of voters believe the news media is critical or very important to our democracy. At the same time, however, a third of Americans favor fining news outlets they see as biased or inaccurate. While 45 percent of Republicans would go as far to allow the courts to shut those outlets down.”
The Foundation supports research and programs exploring the pressing challenges and opportunities facing free expression and other critical issues. This includes commitments to organizations such as the Poynter Institute experimenting with programs to equip students journalists with the tools to model productive discourse on their pages, the American Society of News Editors expanding resources to journalists for open records access, and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University exploring how to protect press freedom in the digital age, among others. Learn more about our work supporting free expression.