Journalism with/vs/for society: what is our mission?

MacQuail (2005) describes the relation between society and journalism. This is a subject Katherine Viner, editor-in-chief at the Guardian, also touches upon in her essay ‘A mission for journalism in a time of crisis’. In it, she chronicles the history of the Guardian and shines a light on the changing nature of society and with that of the newspaper itself.

In 1821 John Edward Taylor started a newspaper, the Manchester Guardian, which was devoted to enlightenment issues, as well as reform, justice and liberty. Viner explains that the ideals upon which the newspaper was built, like educating people, engaging people in politics and doing so for people from all classes and ages, still form the backbone of what the newspaper sets out today.

Both MacQuail (2005) and Viner address the issue of journalists becoming too far removed from the society. By losing touch with everyday lives distrust against journalists can grow, something that is becoming increasingly clear in this day and age.

Viner advocates a journalism that is in touch with the people, that is not snobbish, that speaks to people’s imagination, that provides them with facts in an ever more chaotic world. And with that, she describes exactly what I could see myself doing as a journalist. Hers is a journalistic mission I would gladly be a part of.


McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26. Print.

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