Amid the flurry of countless news stories, comments and features, there is little wonder so many of our audiences report saturation and exhaustion. News has never been more widely read and watched but at the same very time, the level of understanding of what journalists do, and what journalism represents, remains low.
Our industry has become disconnected from the very group of people we aim to serve – the audience.
That is why we at the Canadian Journalism Foundation created World News Day. It is a day to press pause and to recognize the vigorous need and desperate desire of our audiences to connect back with us; and to remind us all of the value of our work.
You may be a small news organisation in west Africa, but you have an audience. You may be part of a multi-national news organisation in Germany. You too have an audience. We have a common connection – humanity; and World News Day aims to bring that connection alive.
This September 28, we call on all newsrooms in the world to join in celebration with their audiences to support what we do, and to help explain the difference we make in people’s lives when we stop to listen to the impact our solution-based work can offer.
Working journalists know all the narrow consequence of their work. The tears of the bereaved. The pain and suffering of refugees. The joy of children raising funds for their local village through sponsored walks, and other charitable commitments.
When policy makers leave a vacuum, it is often filled by journalists who listen to the affected and amplify their ideas; their solutions.
Journalists are professional skeptics, but that doesn’t make us all cynical. In fact, we are motivated to make the world a better place.
But somewhere along the way, that narrative has been co-opted by powerful forces that would prefer to reduce our work to that of an enemy. We are not, as journalists, some other being. We are the product of our society and are a glue that can bind ideas into action.
The purpose of World News Day is not to ask the audience to take our word for it, but to invite the audience to come to the stage.
‘We want the audience to tell the stories of how journalism had an impact on their lives. How journalists believed when nobody else would. How a life was improved because journalists made it their mission to cajole and to push and to hold a line.’
In 1985, Live Aid brought the suffering of famine victims in Ethiopia to the world’s attention. That fundraising movement was called to action because of a Canadian journalist Brian Stewart who told the story of the scale of the disaster. The world responded.
World News Day is not a fundraiser. It will become though a vital day of awareness for all those who support journalists, and for those who fight journalists. The powerful force of the audience is stronger than any enemy of the facts.
This September 28, encourage your audiences to issue a simple tweet about how journalism made a difference in their life. Invite the audience into your newsroom and give them a chance to meet the newsroom heroes. Even host an all-day celebration with the audience superstars live on stage.
To our audience, join us as we celebrate the good that journalism represents. To my industry, let us galvanize our sense of purpose through the audience’s experiences.
All I ask of the news leaders is that we issue the invitation. Wan-Ifra, the world association of newspapers and news publishers, is backing us. Let’s own our story. Let’s remind the world through this day of awareness that we, the journalism industry, listens and then acts.
David Walmsley is the editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail, Canada. He is the chair of the Canadian Journalism Foundation and is a Board member of the World Editors’ Forum, the network for editors within Wan-Ifra.
INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN WORLD NEWS DAY? Email us and we will tell you how you can get involved.