Journalists as prestigious as politicians and priests. Sheesh.

Newspapers against a radio microphone

Journalists as prestigious as politicians and priests. Sheesh.

As the trade of journalism withers on the digital vine, here’s another punch to the profession’s pride.

A new Australian National University report has found Australians think journalists are about as un-prestigious as priests, politicians and (weirdly) artists.

Professions Australians believe are prestigious

 

This is nothing new. Journalists have never ranked highly in the trust stakes. But given that at least 2500 journalism jobs have disappeared from Australia since 2011, this doesn’t bode well.

As politicians promulgate fake news and trolls assert their power to hijack debates. a lack of public prestige around journalism leads to one big fat casualty – truth.

Journalists may well deserve their un-prestigious place in the world thanks to misquoting or shoe-in-the-door tacts, but now is not the time for lack of trust in journalists to grow and fester.

Mistrust and manipulation go hand in hand. Without trust, the baddies – whether they are idealogues, ISIS, or Russians – have carte blanche to manipulate news agendas and distribute misleading opinions through social media.

As Danah Boyd wrote in Wired:

“Our media, our tools, and our politics are being leveraged to help breed polarization by countless actors who can leverage these systems for personal, economic, and ideological gain. Sometimes, it’s for the lulz. Sometimes, the goals are much more disturbing.”

Sure, journalists are not perfect, but now is not the time to shoot the messenger. A lack of prestige for journalists opens up more dark chasms for a changing media world.