Journalism is an Honorable Profession Worthy of Defending

The author, Hal Tarleton, spent three decades as a working journalist and editor. (photo: Hal Tarleton)

Let me defend an honorable profession that is under siege for political reasons.

In my 33 years in the newspaper business, I worked with dedicated people who worked hard to provide readers with the news they wanted and needed. We strived every day to ensure that our reporting was fair to all concerned and often adjusted wording to make sure reports could not be seen as tainted by personal opinions.

In my career, I encountered both conservative and liberal reporters and editors, but all of them worked to eliminate personal feelings from news coverage.

I agree that today’s 24/7 media is worse than in the “golden age” of newspapering. That is the result of attempting to fill the 24-hour news cycle. Much of that coverage is not news; it’s opinion and should be recognized as such.

The panel discussions on CNN or Fox all consist of a few “experts” giving their opinions about the news, and they drone on for hours. That is not news, and any savvy consumer of news should know that. If you are relying on TV for your “news,” you aren’t really getting the news.

I challenge you to turn off the TV and read an established, recognized print newspaper or its website, where you’ll find an overwhelming volume of important, well-researched and honestly reported news.

People like Robert Chain, a California man arrested this week for threatening the lives of reporters at the Boston Globe, or Jarrod Ramos, the gunman who shot five reporters and injured two others at the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, MD, really frighten me.

So does a president who calls me “the enemy of the people” and warns of “violence” if the Democrats take the House in November. These statements are like a call to arms or a “fire bell in the night.”

In Charlotte Friday, the president referred to Democratic nominees for Congress from North Carolina as “bad” people. America used to see political adversaries as “the loyal opposition.” Our words have shifted in a dangerous way.

Hal Tarleton spent more than three decades as a working journalist and editor of The Wilson (NC) Daily Times. You can read more at his blog, The Erstwhile Editor.

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