The role of journalism in democracy

The role of journalism in democracy Photo credit: The Salt Lake Tribune

Defending the truth. And our democracy.

The right to a free press is fundamental to our freedom. That’s why the Founders codified it in the First Amendment of our Constitution. Government can’t function properly without its citizens being informed and engaged.

The same is true for local government and the local press. Independent local journalism helps us fight for the things that matter in our communities. It informs us about important issues and helps us find common ground. It chronicles the positions of candidates, sheds light on ballot initiatives, and encourages voter turnout.

Local journalism acts as an essential watchdog, keeping our government, institutions and corporations accountable and transparent.

And it ignites action.

We need local journalism. Now more than ever.

Local journalism is the bedrock of our democracy. But newspapers everywhere are facing huge challenges. More than 2,000 have closed since 2004. That number is even more distressing when you consider that when local news coverage drops, civic engagement does too. People become apathetic. Fewer candidates run for office. Partisanship goes up. And voter turnout, along with split ticket voting, goes down.

"When local news coverage drops, civic engagement does too."
Source: Scientific American

Local journalism has the power to build community. It’s where we capture our history. Where we share stories about our people, culture, arts, sports teams, schools and businesses. And where we can all have a voice. 

Local journalism enlightens us. Delights us. Inspires us. And unites us.

The truth. No ifs, and or bots.

Granted, there are still millions of news sources out there. But distinguishing fact from fiction can be difficult. Especially in an environment where we have more internet bots and highly partisan commentators, but fewer and fewer reporters. And where everyone can be a publisher.

That’s why it’s imperative that we have trusted sources for local, independent journalism.

"The loss of local newspapers leads to a rise in partisanship."
Source: Scientific American

The free press isn’t free. It needs your support.

In order for this essential civic institution to survive, The Salt Lake Tribune took groundbreaking action to become the country’s first metropolitan daily newspaper to transition to a community-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It is now funded by the people, for the people.

We have also created the Utah Journalism Foundation to ensure the long-term future of The Tribune and provide support to innovative, high quality community-based journalism, including new voices.

When you support the Utah Journalism Foundation, you become a stakeholder in the types of stories that support our democracy. Make history with us. Make a tax-deductible contribution today.


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News that’s rooted in Utah. And the facts.

Reporters relentlessly pursue the facts, interview the players and conduct extensive research—long before you ever read a story. And many times, long after the initial story runs.

To help readers, teachers, parents and students understand how fact-based news is made, The Salt Lake Tribune created a short video and infographic that explains the process. Click here to view the video and download the pdf.