I’m not talking about “fake news” when I take up “journalism” as my subject. Sure, it’s gotten a bad name recently, because of fake news and the accusations of fake news and the gradual dwindling of print media. All of this makes me sad, having aspired to a career in journalism since I was 11 years old.
Journalism is all about writing, whether it’s on radio or TV or the internet. Writing about anything, especially people or politics, demands facts or simply put, the truth. But communication of news requires some skill and much honesty. Real journalism, as opposed to the fake kind, is supposed to be about communicating the truth, that is, what you saw or heard.
Speak Your Piece, since the late 50s or early 60s has been an opinion program – yours, mine. . . We are not talking about opinion pieces here, which include columns or editorials, but they, too, require good journalism and facts.
Fake news is not new, just the terminology coined by a presidential candidate who was not in great favor with the liberal press then or now. However, as long as someone has an ax to grind there always will be fake news. In the past, fake news has triggered lawsuits – libel and plagiarism – to mention the obvious. Today, it’s harder to discern the truth when it comes from the mouths of highly-paid media folks who don’t even try to hide their biases.
It’s all about “spin,” a PR gimmick to shine the best light possible the client, but spin in new amounts to the lukewarm fake news. A weak reporter who may have forgotten about the ethics of what we do distorts, or spins, withholding and reporting some details – to make his, or her point. Tsk, tsk. You don’t learn that in J-school.
We have a constitutional right to a free press and so we do need to leave our opinions at the door when reporting the news. We need controls in the newsrooms, overseers of our work, which is the way it is when you work for any good news outlet. We are held accountable, as are they.
But, when you write on your laptop, you have carte blanche. You are not being checked and you are not really accountable to anyone but yourself. So be careful about sending out those missives – be truthful and don’t regurgitate everything that gets sent your way.
Lastly, when it comes to politics, the so-called silly season, know the candidates, ask questions and don’t believe everything you see or hear. You have a responsibility, too. -PW