Journalism In The Age of Hip-Hop

Throughout history, it’s always been proven that change is inevitable. Even in the 21st Century, technology has advanced tenfold as opposed to the days of PCs and dial-up. Gone are the days where print media ruled the method in which we received information. Thanks to technological advancements, many newspapers and magazines have ditched their physical prints in favor of being online only. Though not necessarily a bad thing, it also affects how journalists and reporters get their information. Now that artists and celebrities have their own channels to directly speak to their fans, it almost completely cuts out the channel of the reporter sharing the information with the public.

As time has shown, journalism is no stranger to the effects of change. But now, writers have to do twice as much work, even when speaking on more important issues such as police brutality and politics. Nowadays it’s much more complicated to put out a story then say, 50 years ago. Even in its infancy, the internet was still a source where information was shared. Now it’s a matter of either deciding to withhold certain information from the public, or putting out information as soon as you get it.

In hindsight, it all boils down to what’s morally correct versus maintaining journalistic integrity. There’s a belief that today’s Hip-Hop journalists tread lightly regarding controversial topics. But is journalism the one to take full blame? Not quite. Hip-Hop’s reputation sometimes makes it harder for journalists to take a stand and discuss topics that are often called ‘taboo’. There’s also the constant battle of inclusion and exclusion in Hip-Hop, which adds to the difficulty of having important discussions in the community. With the lack of transparency for certain topics, there’s always the chance of a potential disconnect between the reader and the journalist. On the other hand, this is something that can easily be fixed, so artists, journalists and reporters alike shouldn’t be too worried.

For starters, there’s always the idea of expanding past writing comfort zones. Don’t be afraid to put out a story that is important and outside of your main writing style — the public has a right to know and access such information. There’s also the idea of implementing other technologies (ex: Social Media, apps for Media Outlets) to promote said writings.

For more ways on how to make it as a writer in an ever-changing industry, be sure to check out our State of Hip-Hop Journalism panel as part of the Hip-Hop Institute at the 13th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival on July 12th at Medgar Evers College.