picture from http://lowbagger.org/littleman.jpg
Journalists And The Public; Newsroom Culture, Letters To The Editor and Democracy by Karin Wahl-Jorgensen brought up many interesting points about media, journalists, the government, letters to the editor and the public at large in just the first two chapters of the book. However there were a few ideas that really struck a cord with me, the connection between the media, government and bringing information to the public, and the history of the letter to the editor.
According to Salmon and Glassser “The liberal view [of government involvment in the lives of people] sees news media as sites for the display of political opinions crafted by those insiders who have access to the information that citizens need. (17)”. This has long been my view of the media, bringing information known only to a few, often exposed after much digging, to the people. It is up the media, and ultimately the journalist, to bring information, no matter how shocking, devestating or contrary to government agenda to the people for them to decide. This plays a huge role in democracy, people must first be educated to make an educated decision. This is where journalism steps into its important role in politics. As Ted Kople said the “American media…operate under what is ultimately our basic assumption in this country, a Jeffersonian notion, that if you allow the public access to all the information, no matter how dramatic or devastating it may be at any given point, ultimately they will reach the right decision (17)”. This though, requires a certain amount of unbias and dedication to the truth. “The most we can ask of journalist is ‘a commitment to caring for the truth.” Journalist need to have drive, be truthful and unbiased to bring knowledge and education to the american people, esspeically in regards to politics. To me this is the essence of most news writing and reporting.
The other part of the reading that caught my interest was the history of the letter to the editor. I had no idea that opinion letters were so central to early news papers and that opinion and fact often merged together into one. Today, in a newspaper industry that for the most part keeps opinion and fact completely seperate, as a part of good journalism ethics, used to be the complete opposite when the industry started. Just thought this was more interesting and educational than anything.