I spent most of my adult life working in the media, first as a radio reporter and then in television. I wanted to be a reporter from the time I started reading Nancy Drew and never stopped. When I was studying Political Science and then Journalism, it was an honored and respected profession.
The business had overcome the days of muckraking and become an educated and respected profession.
Reporters kept some businesses and many politicians honest. Some politicians, and even business leaders, contemplated their mistakes while in prison where the public believed they needed to be due to the details of the secret deals make public by a reporter.
In my time I learned from the reporters that detailed the corruption in the David Hall administration.
I learned from prosecutors the details of white-collar crimes such as the bribes that lead to the County Commissioner scandal and the secret payoffs of taxpayer money during Claudette Henry’s administration and that of Leo Winters.
All of that was less than 40 years ago, some of it in the last 20 years. In some cases, I am sure it is still happening – but what happened? When did the public quit believing or wanting to hear from trained reporters? Reporters who hopefully have done their homework and made sure of their facts. Reporters who demanded public documents that showed how tax dollars were being spent.
Yes, I know there are lazy reporters that don’t check the facts. And yes, I know they sometimes get it wrong. My question is when did what someone posted on the internet, on Facebook or Twitter or another outlet, carry more weight than the work of reporters employed by a newspaper or television or radio station?
The information isn’t always what we want to hear but many times it what we need to hear.
We should never let others decide for us what is right or wrong. We should read and listen and make our own informed decisions.
I know we don’t have a lot of free time on our hands, but it can be done in small pieces, story by story.
Information is power and opinions, to be worthwhile, need to be formed by all the information that can be gathered.
Forgive an old reporter if I ask that you, please, help the reporters by questioning what you read online, and especially on social media. If it isn’t backed up by independently verifiable facts or wasn’t proofed by an editor who doesn’t like mistakes, maybe it shouldn’t form the basis of your opinions.