When I was a junior in college, I had an assignment in one of my journalism classes to find a meeting on campus and cover it.
That was it. Easy enough. It was an investigative journalism class that we’d done some big projects for, but I’m sure to help us have a refresher since moving on from our entry- and mid-level reporting classes, she gave this assignment.
In my search, I found a meeting for the Freethinkers Club. I had absolutely no idea at the time what the club was about. All the callout said for the meeting was that they were going to be there to just have an open conversation. The time was convenient for me, so I let them know I would be joining them for the campus newspaper to cover it.
At that point, I could cover events like that backwards and forwards with my eyes closed. I went into it to cover what happened, write my story and move on to the next thing.
Within the first five minutes of the meeting starting, I’d realized I was a Catholic (well, not a great Catholic by any means, but that’s what I am), sitting in a room full of atheists. They were having an in-depth conversation questioning so many of the things I was taught and believed growing up. They also knew the Bible inside and out, definitely more than I ever did.
Throughout the entire hour-and-a-half long meeting, basically contradicting everything that I ever believed, did I talk to these people and question what they were saying–on behalf of my own thoughts? No. Did I argue? No. Did I feel the urge to argue or speak up? …..not once.
I was there for one reason, and one reason only: Cover the meeting.
And by “cover the meeting,” that means provide an unbiased report.
However, I probably took more away from the meeting than they did, just learning about other people’s perspectives than my own. Experiences like this helped me grow not only as a reporter and writer, but as a person.
Whether I agreed with them or not, they were a group of people, expressing their first amendment right. It was my job to share what happened.
This is what your journalists do for you every day.
Is there sensationalized news? Of course there is. But all news isn’t bad. And today’s war on the media is becoming very frightening to me, as it should to you.
Imagine if you took a day to completely shut yourself off to the news.
What if only the people in Houston, experiencing the effects of Hurricane Harvey were the only ones to know about the destruction? What if only the people in Los Angeles knew about the raging wildfires? Or closer to where you live, what if you had absolutely no one to tell you how the weather was going to be that day, or that there was a bad accident on your way to work that you could save time by avoiding?
Also, and more importantly, the accountability. Without the media, who would hold people accountable?
What if there was no one to hold your local government accountable with your taxpayer dollars? What if there was no one to investigate corrupt corporations or business practices?
While the media isn’t perfect, and there’s always room for improvement, we need them.
Even further, so many of our journalists put their lives on the lines just to report the truth.
While it is a few years old, in this USA Today article “Rieder: Why reporters risk lives in hot zones like Syria,” they spoke with the same journalist that gave me my assignment to cover the Freethinkers meeting. This was the same journalist who made me get out of my comfort zone. Not only did she help craft all of her students into journalists, but also the importance of ethics.
Journalists do this every day without ever getting a “thank you.”
But they don’t ask for a “thank you.” They do it because they love it. They do it to seek and share the truth.
Your true journalists are giving you the unbiased truth.
If you only think all media is just “the fake media,” then you need to find another news source that provides better, unbiased information.
Would you want to live in a world where you only get your information from one source, the government? No matter what political party identify with, or what party is in the White House, that is completely absurd.
Or, would you want your area’s news just shared through word of mouth that may have gotten passed down person from person, so by the time it gets to you, you’re getting maybe half of the truth?
…or social media. Thanks to social media, everyone has a voice. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But it is easy to find what you want to hear and hold onto it. And just because someone has a Twitter account or a blog doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.
Myself included… however… as a person with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, taught by some of the best journalists in the country that have figuratively and literally been in the trenches for YOU, this is something I know first-hand.
The average, every day person with a Twitter account wasn’t taught how to cover events and then how to craft them into a story. They weren’t taught how to cover something in a completely unbiased fashion. And they may not have some of the skills that can’t be taught, that journalists just instinctively have.
I’m not saying a person without a degree in journalism can’t report the truth, however, just because a person has a platform doesn’t make them a professional, and a trustworthy source for news.
As they have the responsibility to cover and report, your journalists are going to continue providing this service to you–in most cases, in underpaid conditions.
Even when you are screaming “fake news!” in their faces, they are still going to show up for you.
If you have a problem or question about their reporting, reach out. Hold them accountable too, but don’t shut them out. It’s our right as American citizens to have the media hold those making decisions on our behalf accountable for their actions.
I mean… you can shut them out… but… they’ll still be there for you…. 24 hours a day… seven days a week.
So to the journalists out there in this tough time for news and journalism: Thank you.
Thank you for all that you do.