Saturday, January 17, 2009

Defending Journalists For This One Moment

Courtesy of Education Center Online

If you have been reading my blog long enough, you probably get the sense that I have a rather healthy distrust of institutions. I don't believe everything I read or hear in the press, especially corporate media. I don't worship corporations and I also don't trust churches or people who may operate them if their intent is seeking personal or political power or if they are in bed with the government. I never believe anything a politician says. However, I'm on good terms personally with several state legislators and even send them Christmas cards every year. Basically, I don't trust anyone who is power-hungry. Beyond that, I can mesh with many different people in many different situations; Yet I will never fit squarely into any one group. I may appear to be simple on the outside. But on the inside, I can't even figure myself out at times.

I suspect my reasons for not trusting the media is similar to most people who happen to not trust the media. It is because, too often, journalists are too close to the people they cover or would not want to lose a major advertiser and thus may not run a story that portrays the advertiser in a negative light. Of course what is the "media" these days is blurred in large part due to the internet with all that it brings to the table.

Other issues I have with the media or at least the traditional media is they either don't report independently what politicians may say and are willing to look the other way when government officials engage in misconduct.

Worse, they do the government's public relations work for them. I gather this is more of an editorial or a political issue than a reporting or business issue. Editors and reporters can be just as motivated by personal or political interests as anyone.

I have dealt with this first-hand to the point of butting heads with an editor because of my refusal to allow myself to be an errand boy in accordance with another certain individual who certainly acted and thought like a politician although she was supposed to be representing the people of her district. I will let you fill in the details on what this matter may have involved. Basically, it would be allowing them to tell me how to write my articles that would serve as a front for their personal and political opinions as if people didn't already suspect something was amiss with their local paper. Of course, the editor runs the paper and runs it as they see fit. It is their right as it is my right to not work there if that is the way it has to be. It may have cost me my job, but I have no regrets. Ultimately, they will have to answer to the same God I answer to.

So I do take a step back when I hear or read something along the lines of journalists being blamed for all the ills in the world or people wondering why they can't figure things out even after there is so much information available on many subjects. Want to know what causes inflation? Look it up. Why do cold fronts do what they do? Google it. These days with access to the internet, there is no excuse to not expand your sources for information. Of course, until the government decides that the internet must be censored or cease to exist.
I wonder how well that will go over.

I sometimes have to remind people who have commented in this way that while we may not like everything we see or hear and perhaps we shouldn't, reporters, journalists, and what have you have bills to pay and make ends meet like everyone else. They have families to feed and do have a social life or at least I hope they do to an extent. It is hard to be an effective reporter if you are sitting behind a desk in a dark room all day and night. They often have to do things they may not want to do and wouldn't in a perfect world, but alas we don't live in perfect world.

It is just that while a journalist's work is so public, the process of deciding what gets put on air or published is done in a way that is not privy to the public eye i.e. editorial decisions being made in conference rooms.

I communicate regularly with journalists in my area and have several of them on MySpace, Facebook and what not.

As one of my newer friends on Facebook wrote to me, "[Y]ou help keep us employed".

News organizations are businesses just like any other business. They have production costs to meet primarily paying salaries and have expenses to meet like the utility bill, the cost of purchasing and maintaining their equipment, and receive their revenue primarily from advertising which is becoming more diluted with the advent of the internet. Newspapers are certainly feeling the brunt of this.

So, keep this mind next time you want to condemn them for everything that is ailing you and the world around you. They are just messengers or at least they are supposed to be. They don't make the news, they just report on it.

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