Reconstructing the Fourth Estate
The United States was founded on the principle that the people would control the government and the government would protect the people. There are three pillars of government: The legislative, executive and judicial branches. Each provides a check and balance to the other.
On top of that, there is still a fourth estate: the media. If the government doesn’t live up to the people, members of the press are supposed to be there to call it out. Journalism is about digging for the truth so the public can make the right choices when it comes to the government.
Real investigative journalism is dying. In the rush for higher profits, the true purpose has been lost. When your eye is trained on the profit margin, it’s not on the ball. The mentality has changed to profits first and then you’ll be able to do a thorough job rather than the profits will come if you provide a solid service that readers are willing to pay for.
There’s also increased focus on delivery mechanisms rather than the substance of the job. For example, one reporter I know said her college discontinued journalism classes and instead was tying them into technology classes. Another colleague said his college gave up on journalism 15 years ago.
The delivery methods are important and it’s crucial to stay up on evolving technology. That is the future of news consumption. But when no one is left who knows how to sniff out clues beyond a Google search and reporters’ training is honed around the right questions to ask, what does that say for the content itself?
Credit unions and newspapers alike have struggled over the last few years. They’ve struggled because they weren’t evolving with the times. Many now have the latest delivery mechanisms in place, what are you going to do with that?
I recently attended the New Jersey Credit Union League Reality Check. The common theme echoing through the halls was holding the NCUA accountable for the corporate losses and determining the real reasoning behind the agency not spreading out the corporate assessments earlier in the process. The FDIC has gotten more creative with its accounting, so why not the NCUA, credit union executives were asking. It is our duty to ferret out the answers.
Credit Union Times has undergone many changes in the last couple of years. We’ve redesigned our magazine and overhauled our website. We’ve repackaged and reworked.
We’ve stayed on top of breaking news and that was plenty to keep our small staff busy. But we followed it. We didn’t take the lead with it.
Credit Union Times remains the credit union news market leader in all ways but that doesn’t mean it’s been enough for our readership. As the fourth pillar we should have been the ones delving into corporate portfolios to figure out just how they heck were they generating these amazing returns before the crisis ripped through the industry like the Merrill Lynch bull in a china shop.
Investigative journalism may be dying but it’s not dead. We’re going to breathe life into it here. There are still publications and news sites out there like Fast Company, The Economist, Financial Times and Politico that have been successful both critically and commercially. They do that by providing what no one else is: in-depth, forward-thinking content and they’re doing it through all the various channels.
In the coming weeks and months, you’ll be flipping through the pages of our sleek redesigned magazine and you’re going to see a renewed vigor in real news and information analysis coming out of Credit Union Times. You’ll see it on our modern and better functioning website.
Our tagline is ‘Trusted News for Credit Union Leaders.’ That means holding feet to the fire and finding out what’s really going on. That means seeing the trend before it becomes a trend. We’re going to live up to that.