With the reference to the character of Skaggs from The Sport of the Gods as well as real world examples, critically assess the role of journalism in a democratic society.

The character of Skaggs shows the importance of journalists in democratic society, as his stories help Berry acquire a pardon. In the United States, freedom of the press is an important component of the First Amendment. In the 1970s, journalists played crucial roles in exposing politically motivated crimes, which contributed to President Nixon’s resignation. In recent years, journalists have worked with attorneys to find evidence exonerating people who were wrongfully accused or convicted.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Skaggs is a reporter in The Sport of the Gods. Through his acquaintance with Joe Hamilton, he gets involved in the case of Berry, Joe’s father, who was wrongfully accused and convicted of stealing money from his employer’s home. After Berry is incarcerated, Skaggs does follow-up research and writes the truth in stories published in a newspaper, the New York Universe. His dedication to seeking justice and the exposé lead to Berry being pardoned and freed.

In the United States, freedom of the press is guaranteed in the US Constitution, but that is not the case in all countries. It is specifically identified as one of the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. Journalists are nicknamed “the watchdogs of democracy.” Journalism functions to safeguard democracy by promoting transparency and following its professional, ethical obligation to report the activities of government authorities.

Probably the most famous, and perhaps the most far-reaching, case of journalistic involvement in events that were crucial to American democracy was the role of The Washington Post in the Watergate Scandal. In the 1970s, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two Post reporters, played crucial roles in exposing a Republican-led burglary in Democratic Party offices. The subsequent revelation of President Nixon’s illegal efforts to hide his involvement greatly contributed to his decision to resign before probably facing impeachment.

In recent years, journalists have worked with attorneys to find evidence exonerating people who were wrongfully accused or convicted. Among the groups and individuals involved in this type of investigate reporting, the Innocence Project has played a leading role. One successful example of the Project’s work in Missouri was the 2011 exoneration of Dale Heming—a 15-year process.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial