Sunday, July 24, 2016

There is no Law Compelling Media to Inform the Citizenry but that does not Preclude the Will to Make it so...

Let me say that again – There is no law compelling media to inform the citizenry but that does not preclude the will to make it so... (with the truth, which I believe is implied).

Neither does it preclude mainstream media from understanding and respecting the intent behind its mention in the First Amendment.

Nor does it preclude the citizenry from standing up and talking back! 

In fact, the court of public opinion is the only thing that can hold its feet to fire otherwise, as we are seeing today, they merely breed low information citizens.

I am of the mind that the press is protected by the 1st Amendment with the expectation that it serves to expose abuses of power by the government followed, in turn, by consequences ~ as determined by an informed electorate at the polls.

As an activist and a former journalist who believes an informed electorate is critical to the success of our nation, the fairly recent and rampant merging of activism and news became the focus of my work in supporting President Obama and his Agenda in the context of prodding mainstream media to do its job with integrity so the electorate can, in turn, do its job with knowledge.

I have been a freelance media critic and a Volunteer with Organizing for America (campaign) and Organizing for Action (advocacy) via the Truth Team and I am a continuing that work as a freelance media critic and a Volunteer Leader with the Hillary Clinton Campaign primarily through social media.

I don’t take media's role in civics lightly and often times I am annoyingly purist about it because I do hold the messengers of our information to a high standard and if hear them miss that standard, most notably as established by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), I stand up and, with all due respect most of the time, talk back.

(I don't think there is a media person who is not accessible to citizens who would like to stand up and talk back on behalf of truth in media, BTW, particularly on whatever one's favorite social media platform might be!)

Some of my expectations of journalists are, as follows:


I expect journalists to believe “public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.” 


I expect journalists to seek the truth and to provide fair, accurate and comprehensible accounts of that truth. 


I expect journalists to source their information (and that would be from more than one source, thank you very much). 


I expect journalists to identify sources and to grant anonymity sparingly. (Speaks for itself.) 


I expect journalists to disclose conflicts. 

Call me naïve but I believe mainstream media’s primary role is to perform a service that assists in the maintenance and preservation of the United States of America. 

I believe our Founding Fathers were clear on the important role communication played in organizing a revolution and a new form of government even if they may not have been as clear on the boundaries between truth, opinion, campaigning, etc., as they should have been.

Fortunately for us, by the late 19th Century, a major newspaper owner, Adolph S. Ochs, declared news to be impartial; the Progressive Era ushered in watchdog journalism and; the early 20th Century Communications Act set the tone for a mainstream media that served “the public interest...” 

Today, mainstream has lost clarity on the boundaries that separate truth, opinion, campaigning, advertising, etc.. As a result, it is more important than it has ever been that we, as consumers, accept responsibility for critical thinking and for separating fact from fiction.

I am of the old school of print journalism, editing and critiquing. I can be a stickler for sources, facts and language. It is what tells me if I should consider a reporter/talking head to be credible. 

Are they using anonymous sources when anonymous sources are not necessary? If they are they have minimum credibility the minute they write/speak ~ because if one is not willing to use one’s name unless one’s life or livelihood is threatened then one shouldn’t speak. 

(And if they have no sources they are not worth reading/listening to.)

Are they are using qualifying language such as If, And, Or, Maybe, and But; it “appears”; it is “nearly”; it is “slightly”; it is “somewhat”; it is “almost”; it is “kind of”; it is “pretty” easy (or hard)?

All morning, just this morning, talking heads on two separate channels used qualifying language such as "think," "apparent," suggest," feel," seems" and "potentially."

Good Grief, reporting reports what is and what isn't and language as noted above indicates  
 they are imagining and they are of no service to the electorate. 

Are they defining the terms? In the context of the 2016 Democratic Convention, for example, what is a Democrat and what is not? They are remiss of they don’t define the terms for their audience. 

Are they are doing the false equivalency thing ~ reporting that two sides of one story are the same. If they are they are lying. Democrats and Republicans, for example, are not the same thing.

You can read SPJ's Code of Ethics here ,
then you can decide if you should be standing up and talking back -- or not...

Thank you for reading!

G., aka Partisan Democrat

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