Viewpoint: Nonprofit media is new frontier

Jordan Corona | Staff Writer
Jordan Corona | Staff Writer

By Jordan Corona
Staff Writer

Newspapers are dying, but inquiring minds don’t need to suffer. There’s hope for the gentrifying Fourth Estate, if fewer folks are concerned about turning a buck.

The dialogue about information in an Internet age, globalization and that general connectedness many people of the 21st century have in common is fascinating. It is overwhelming. It is ambitious for a school paper’s editorial column, but hear me out on this caveat.

Nonprofit media is good news for the world of informers and the informed. Let’s embrace it and make a trend.

Among those who involve themselves, who read and contribute, electronic or otherwise, opinion or otherwise, the text-riddled climate of our times preaches the doctrine of the priesthood of the informed. People who have unbrokered access to content have the choice and a prerogative, on some level, to be involved.

It’s a terrific freedom that’s caused much of modern journalism a great identity crisis. The corporate media outlets awkwardly tiptoe around fancy touch screens, scrolling tweet feeds and Canadian popstars to seem current. No slight to Canada. Now might be a good time to separate from those unhealthy ties to its capitalist base.

Content does not need to compromise to fit the interests of the big bucks. A true newsroom confession is that nothing may be totally slant-free. Central to the art of this active storytelling is learning better ways to separate an author’s editorial dross from the golden truth.

For the writer, fighting self-opinion is discipline. Fighting corporate opinion is self-defense.

They say American journalism institutionalized in the early 20th century. The papers beat rock and muckrakers like Lincoln Steffens gave journalism a purpose, contributed to American life and thought — democracy.

But the private sector was a different place then. Corporate culture was twice industrialized, an economic pegboard for just about every fixture of American life. Churches, family dynamics, infrastructure moved because of that robust economic power. A voice for the people, though never popular among exploiters, at least had a place in the commercial.

That’s not the case now. If anything, the competitive mentality that’s hardwired to any profit-making operation is rubbing journalistic ideals raw. Reporters are gimmicky. And to get a story faster than the next guy, some are more willing to risk making a mistake.

This past year CNN misreported the bombing in Boston. The nation was anxious. People were scared. Misrepresenting the facts to be the first was unnecessary.

Though that same competitive drive built quality, globally relevant institutions like CNN, the New York Times and hundreds of local papers, you don’t have to look hard to see the odds aren’t exactly in their favor.

Community is valuable in journalism. Having an institution to back the writer’s questions and step up to the bat when a story gets dangerous is nice. A team to play to a common editorial standard is right.

But for many, writing the right thing, means becoming autonomous. It’s a romantic thought, perhaps, but even Hemingway had an editor.

Nonprofit media is a new frontier. Its potential is untapped enough to put writers back in the people’s court. What’s more, it may be journalism’s chance to do more of the right thing with the power of a group.

Jordan Corona is a senior journalism major from Corpus Christi. He is a staff writer for The Lariat.