The other day newspapers in North America and around the world joined in a paean for a free press. It needs to be said that where it failed was that so much of that valuable space was given so freely to U.S. president Donald Trump and that ilk. It was no palliative.
It failed when it gave much of the space to those who would destroy the free press that we do have. It failed when it whined about detractors, their harsh words and scorn for their failures. It was not just the mote in their eye but their desperate search for new readers and subscribers. We could not read them all but we were concerned that, in those we did read, there did not seem to be much said about professionalism.
Press professionalism is something of a ghost. We talk about it but do not see it as often as we would want. Professionalism is a trust. It is the trust that the facts have been checked and double checked. It is the trust in a second opinion—call it editing—has seen the piece and declared it trustworthy.
And it takes experience. We are not all wonder kinder still fresh from journalism school. We have to learn to ask the right questions and not be afraid to ask them. We have to write the truth as we see it.
There must be some kind of a graduating ceremony in certain newsrooms. It is when a reporter stops writing news and switches to opinions. There really should be stiffer exams for that.
(I am obviously not talking about my efforts—here, you get what you pay for!)
Professionalism is something you get paid for. You go from trainee, to journey person, to professional. And a few get to master it.
You, as a reader, also have a responsibility. What is the point if you always agree with the media you are reading? How does that stimulate your thinking? What could be the point? If you never challenge the editors of your local newspapers, what does that say about you? When you are giving of your interest, you have a right to demand professionalism.
And us curmudgeons who complain from the sidelines are here in hopes we can also keep the newcomers honest. If we have an opinion you can appreciate; you will read us. If we do not; you will not. It is that simple. Readership is a barometer of whether any writing is of interest. The more you read, the larger, more interesting is your world.
Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry
Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to [email protected]