Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A reporter is...

Based on a couple of comments on my recent post on President-Elect Trump I would like to refresh the meaning of what a journalist is. The name "journalist" stems from one who kept a journal on events seen and when possible would send his or her observations to a newspaper or periodical for publication.
Through the years’ journalism has evolved into what I call near immediate reporting. Technology today allows nearly instantaneous connection to the world's receptors of information. That can mean any receptor from the main stream media, i.e. The broadcast and cable networks, newspapers, wire services, and to what is called, "social media," i.e. anybody with a cellphone or computer and the means to transmit the unfiltered, unchecked, unattributed information to anyone willing to read it.
Unfortunately, most of these readers and viewers have a penchant to believe the information received as truth, particularity if it conforms to their political and social preferences. That’s probably true for most of us.
The mainstream media are the professionals. Their job is to check facts, apply attributions where necessary, and provide context to the story.
A.J. Liebling, a noted American journalist connected to The New Yorker, once wrote and I am paraphrasing as best that my memory holds:
"A reporter is one who writes about what he or she sees. A commentator is one who writes about what he or she sees and what they construe to be its meaning. An editorialist is one who stirs about he or she hasn't seen and what they construe to be its meaning."
When I submit a post, I do so as a commentator, it's an opinion, not a report, although it may contain reportorial facts that I have observed or ascertained. Reporters alone are bound to tell only the facts. Who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how. The skill of the reporter comes out as he crafts his words into a concise and accurate story. The ability of a commentator surfaces when he can use personal experience, history, logic and verifiable facts to amplify or validate an opinion.
Look at the labels of all sources of information. Is it a report? Is it a comment from an alleged expert, or is it a single opinion from a particular interest group, hence a surreptitious editorial?
Our society, both friendships and professional society, are tight with contention. Opinion should not be the catalyst of contention. It should be the dialogue of discussion so each side can express feelings without attack, without animosity, and without hurt feelings.
Now is not a time for separation and boycott. It is a time for tolerance. It is a time of expectation. A time for trying a new way. Like it or not, it is a time for experimentation in the advancement of our republic and the sustainment of our democracy.  If it doesn't work we have the mechanism to change it.
Sent from my iPad

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