Editorial

Our voice must be heard

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Let me start by saying this, I know a lot of readers heavily disagreed with my opinion in my last column. People have the right to disagree with me and they also have the right to publicly voice their opinion on Facebook or any other forms of social media. I was told when I took this job, and I’m paraphrasing here, that column writing is a different entity.

All that being said, I’m not writing today to address those who disagreed with me nor will I discuss those who decided to criticize my appearance. I knew what I was getting into.

However, there were a few comments, concerning the necessity of journalists, which truly got to me. It’s difficult for me to comprehend that some might think journalists or the practice of journalism is unnecessary.

I would argue that we need the free press more than anything else in this country. I believe that the strongest thing a person can possess is knowledge. Without it, to be frank, everyone would be an idiot and if you are an idiot you are easily controlled.

Knowledge is not confined to mathematics or scientific study, while those things are important; people need to know what is going on in the world. There is a saying in the world of journalism, “If the press doesn’t tell you, who will?” Say what you will about the politics of different media outlets, but you cannot deny the affect that an informed public has on an event, particularly in regard to times of disaster or corruption.

There are those who would deny facts and create their own narrative to better suit themselves and we, the press, are the natural enemy to those people. While I am certainly no government conspiracy nutjob who believes that the government is trying always to oppress its citizens, I am also a reasonable person who knows that politicians have attempted and would again attempt to hide information that they would rather us just not know. That goes for any government be it local, state or federal because those who work in our government are human and sometimes humans lie. However, just because lying is a part of our nature as a species doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to it.

A more famous example of this would be the Watergate scandal uncovered by the Washington Post. Journalists uncovered those events not because they wanted to pick a fight with someone but because it was the right thing to do.

In times of disaster the press is always there. We help people understand what is going on and can often inspire others to help those in need. I do believe that we as Americans naturally want to help others, but if we didn’t have the press how would we know about anything that happened halfway across the country.

Most recently the press was heavily focused on the events of the many hurricanes that have happened. People know about those situations because of journalists who put themselves at risk so that we know what is going on.

The main job of the press is to inform the public in whatever form that may take. Now, I will admit to you that not all news outlets are perfect. Some will twist words to fit the story they want to make (not unlike politicians). Typically this is done because of a political agenda and both parties do it (there it is!).

So now I hear you ask, “how do we determine what is true and what isn’t?” The simple answer is to look at the sources and always stay informed. Try to stay away from outlets that are known to lean left or right and if you still aren’t sure read both sides of the story. Just because not every news outlet has the best interest of the people at heart does not mean that most of us don’t. I believe that most journalists simply wish for an informed public. However, that intention can get muddled up in all the voices of everyone shouting to be the loudest.

To those that would deem the media as “fake news” for disagreeing with them or call us “the enemy of the people,” and I am not just talking about our president, you wouldn’t need to be afraid of us if you weren’t dishonest. There are plenty in this world who would love to see the free press eliminated. They would love for the press to be controlled and be a “yes man” to all of their actions. Some have successfully accomplished wiping out the free press and those places are usually found under the complete reign of a tyrannical government. Just get used to calling someone supreme leader or “Guiding Star of the 21st Century.” No, I did not make that up. If you think you would be better off in a place where the government controls every aspect of your life then by all means continue to act as if you don’t need the press, but if you are one of those people who enjoy being a free citizen maybe you should be a little slower to condemn us.

gwilliams@blythevillecourier.com