A new model for newspapers

The Daily recently published an important investigation. Unfortunately, that’s now uncommon for mainstream media.

For those who read The Minnesota Daily on a regular basis, you might have noticed a particular headline in MondayâÄôs paper that read, âÄúStudent candidate lied about past.âÄù The article is undoubtedly a feat of investigative journalism for my collegiate contemporaries âÄî especially for reporters who rarely have the funds with which to pursue such a story. The Minnesota Daily scooped other local papers in uncovering the embarrassing scam but I see a particular problem in that the Star Tribune failed to uncover the same situation. Perhaps Charles CarlsonâÄôs position as a student is of more pertinence to a student newspaper, but in running for a Minneapolis City Council seat, Carlson made a transition into local politics and news that affects the larger body of Minneapolis, campus and all. Indeed, the issueâÄôs lack of coverage in other media was problematic and demonstrative of the larger demise of investigative journalism currently taking place in media. Journalists have traditionally functioned as part of the check and balance system for government. JournalistsâÄô eyes for protocol and words of public discourse have been known to provide insight where the government has failed to do so. After all, it was journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein from The Washington Post who were given credit for uncovering the Watergate scandal in 1974. But the news has changed drastically since 1974. We know that newspapers are floundering and that big media owns local news. The numbers of bloggers and online news sources have exploded to further the battle of practical news coverage and reliable information. But what this weekâÄôs investigation in the Daily brings to light is a necessity of credibility of those outlets. We wouldnâÄôt go to a dentist who hadnâÄôt passed his medical board examination. Why would we trust someone who hasnâÄôt been trained in the craft of journalism to feed us our news? To combat copping out of genuine reportage, journalists have begun to look toward large endowments and grants, like ProPublica, to fund their stories. David Swensen, who managed one of the worldâÄôs largest endowments as chief investment officer at Yale University, told the Associated Press that endowments âÄúwould enhance newspapersâÄô autonomy while shielding them from the economic forces that are now tearing them down.âÄù According to the AP, other âÄúnewspapers are having to rethink every aspect of their operations, including their for-profit existence, given their inability to generate enough revenue from their websites to offset the losses in print.âÄù Perhaps it is time to reexamine the system. Undoubtedly, the task is much too complex to offer a solution here, but it would be worth considering if we aim for a return of legitimate journalism. We must have another vehicle for government discussion and real social discourse; newspapers have always struggled âÄî from their form as political pamphlets to the rise and demise of yellow journalism. It is time they have the means with which to fuel the vehicle of discussion rather than become the scrap metal of an object that once propelled innovation. Kelsey Kudak welcomes comments at [email protected]