In a world that chants “fake news,” I’m often the odd one out when I advocate for the importance of the press.
Between citizen journalists, bloggers, and social media reporters, I can definitely see how people feel overwhelmed by unreliable information.
It’s inconvenient, but I think it’s worth it to weed through all of that to get to the real journalism, the kind that holds governments accountable and serves citizens.
But, when your job is to relay that information to the public, you become the first scapegoat for public officials to divert responsibility toward.
Instead of admitting that they’ve done something that portrays them unfavorably, it’s a quick fix to say that the media made them look bad.
It’s an easy out to question the legitimacy of something simply because you don’t like the truth behind it.
I recently wrote an article that wasn’t received well by the parties involved. They said there were no inaccuracies and no misquotes, they just didn’t like the article.
Of course, it wasn’t the feedback I would hope to hear, because I naturally want people to respond positively to what I do.
But, if there’s nothing factually wrong with what I’ve written, an article that isn’t received well doesn’t mean it wasn’t done right.
I’ll be the first to admit that the media gets it wrong sometimes. Other times, the media just does a good job of covering someone who was in the wrong.
Ultimately, my job is to lay out the facts, not to tell you my opinion of them.
I try to be sensitive and I consider the implications of what I write, but my profession depends on reporting what happened, even when those involved may not like it.
It would be much more fun to only write stories that make people smile and laugh and to only receive calls from people telling me how much I brightened their day.
Those stories are important too, but we live in a world that isn’t always bright and cheery, and journalism exists to reflect that reality.
Quality news is important because I believe the public has a right to know the good and the bad, even when their elected officials insist on responding to them with, “No comment.”
And I’ll be happy to keep reporting on the “bad” news, as long as it’s giving readers the chance to decide for themselves whether it’s good or bad.
-Kayleen Petrovia is a reporter for the Journal-Tribune.
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