Monday, February 20, 2006

A few thoughts on loyalty

So I wasn't paying attention and I missed last week's topic post. But I do have something to say about it...

Journalists must be loyal to the people. Without that, what right do they have to say they are working in the best interest of the public or claim the people have the right to know therefore they have the right to report? I would say, for the most part, journalists would tell you this is where their loyalties lie. They are working for the people and sometimes this means sticking out their necks a little, sometimes into places they wish they wouldn't have gone, sometimes into trouble, danger, and disasters, sometimes into sadness, pain, and disappointment, sometimes into the happy moments.

This isn't always a glamorous job. Journalists are not the most respected and beloved people. But they are trying to keep everyone honest, thus working in behalf of the people. If journalists lose that focus, they lose their purpose.

However, it is important to remember even though journalists technically work for the people, that doesn't make them separate from the people. At this point, a journalist is rarely treated as anything but more than a private person. They have no special rights, privileges, or protections not already allotted to all citizens. If they want information, they have to file a request under FOIA or GRAMA to get it. They have to stand behind the yellow tape at crime scenes. If they want a story told, they have to go to the source, ask the questions, and dig for the truthful answers. Any person would have to do the same if they wanted the truth.

The thing that separates journalists from the rest of the population is the fact that they are willing to do those kinds of things--dig up the information, tell the stories and publish them--so everyone doesn't have to do it for themselves, a job which has a tendency to put them in the bad egg basket along with the other underlings of society--lawyers.

Journalists should be held to standard. They should be accountable for mistakes they make. But let's not sit them on the chopping block. Remember who they are working for...

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