This article appeared in the January 19, 2023 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Despite everything you think you know, journalism can be on the right track

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
American flags encircle the Washington Monument in the U.S. capital. Good journalism reveals the hope and progress in the world – such as peaceful transfers of power in recent elections – as well as problems requiring public attention.

Have you read David Brooks’ latest article in The Atlantic? You should. It’s titled: “Despite Everything You Think You Know, America Is on the Right Track,” and you can read it here

One main takeaway is this: It is essential not to mistake social upheaval with national weakness. Social upheaval is inevitable and in crucial ways can be a sign of strength. As Mr. Brooks says: “We go through moments when the established order stops working. People and movements rise up, and things change ... as new problems become obvious, the culture shifts.”

The world never stands still. Strength is measured by how well nations can evolve with it. “If there is one lesson from the events of the past year,” Mr. Brooks continues, “it is that open societies such as ours have an ability to adapt in a way that closed societies simply do not. Russia has turned violent and malevolent. China has grown more authoritarian and inept.”

The Monitor would argue that open societies are successful because they do the best job of protecting and expanding core human values – compassion, fairness, honesty, responsibility, ingenuity, and so on. That’s the idea behind our new values approach to news. If these are the things that really matter, shouldn’t the media be paying attention to them? 

A friend of the Monitor, prize-winning journalist Mónica Guzmán, recently tweeted about our values approach: “It was so refreshing just to scan through this list. I can see dangers – sugarcoating, forcing problems into the shape of solutions... but … There’s something really promising here.”

Balancing hope and hard news has always been the Monitor’s challenge. But as Mr. Brooks compellingly shows, there are plentiful credible counterarguments to today’s doomscrolling. That starts with recognizing that progress is inherent in the highest ideals of humanity, and news is the story of our collective struggle to reach them.  

This article appeared in the January 19, 2023 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/19 edition
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