Reversing the erosion of democracy

“Facts matter, and we need to believe in that.”

2017 will be the year journalism gets back to basics. Who are we and why should anyone pay the slightest attention, let alone money, to us? The answer must be that we serve a purpose. Broadly, that service is reliable facts and information that help you live your life and fulfill your role as a citizen. Facts matter, and we need to believe in that.

michael-oreskesBut to understand what that means from day to day, we have to get much more engaged with audiences to understand their unmet needs. There will be different demands from different audiences. We should resist steps that drag us into the appearance of partisanship while reaffirming our essential role holding government to account at all levels.

Reinventing and reinvigorating our role as a convener and bridge builder will take center stage. Engaging across the many fractures in America will help reestablish trust. We need that trust.

We are the providers of independent, reliable information that democracy needs. But without faith in that information and us as the providers, the democracy erodes. That’s been going on for years now. We have a role in reversing that erosion. To do it, we have to be clear about who we are.

Michael Oreskes is senior vice president of news and editorial director at NPR.

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