It’s a Question of Trust

Posted in: Club Newsletter, Featured, In The News, Reflections Articles

It’s a Question of Trust
by Terri Watkins

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.

6 Comments for : It’s a Question of Trust
    • Paul Moore
    • February 28, 2022

    Terri, thanks for these thoughts. There has certainly been a shift in that to which we give credence. Vetting is important and other than Facebook’s “fact-checking” self-serving statements seem to stand. The most useful course I took at Hillsdale College was Propaganda Analysis, and I am getting plenty of chances to use it these days.

    • Cliff Dougherty
    • February 28, 2022


    • bart binning
    • February 28, 2022

    Sometime during the 1970’s schools of journalism started teaching that social justice was the purpose of journalism, and stopped teaching the purpose was to present the facts and let the public draw conclusions. At the time we were also experiencing an exposion of information, and some looked to journalists to turn that information into knowledge by condensing information and drawing conclusions. If these conclusions were drawn through a social justice lens, some of the conclusions could appear to be biased. Then the Internet appeared, and on-line journalism blew up the old journalism model. So here we are today…

    • Dick Hefton
    • March 1, 2022

    Everything you say is a lament of the time when media was owned by news people, largely loyal to local service. Today ownership , operating under The Golden Rule(He who has the Gold Makes the Rules) is held by Zillionaires or leveraged from worldwide investors from, you can imagine where, carrying sinister agenda?

    • John Settle
    • March 3, 2022

    Well written Terri!

    • John Settle
    • March 3, 2022

    I agree Terri!

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