Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

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"In a 1999 survey sponsored by the First Amendment Center, 53% of Americans

said they believed the press has too much freedom" (Haiman 73)

I disagree with 53% of America.  But I agree with Thomas Jefferson:

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being

lost. To the sacrifice of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding

that of peace of mind and even reputation" (Jefferson, qtd in Haiman 73).

I don't feel like I know enough about all the loopholes and difficulties of journalism to get overly opinionated about the state of the press.  Things tend to get askew concerning journalism.  For example, I know for sure that lying is wrong.  Yet is misrepresenting a topic also lying?  I'd say yes.  But what if "the other side" refuses to comment or, as I feel is often the case, it's simply impossible to incorporate every viewpoint in an article?  Is that misrepresentation still lying? 

When these lines are blurred, as they often are, the public sharpens their pitchforks, heats up the tar, and gathers the feathers for some reporter hunting.  Hey, I've been misquoted in the paper before, I know how frustrating that can be.  And I agree with everyone who says reporters need to take heed not to abuse their power. 

With great power comes great responsibility.  In case anyone missed  the Spiderman movie.

What bothered me about the aforementioned poll taken regarding freedom of the press is that it made me wonder what freedom would that 53% of America want taken away from reporters?  What a slippery slope to stumble down.  The public needs to also take responsibility for the news, because the public is what gives the news its power.  Reward what's "good" news and watch discriminately. 

*I'm not the only one whose spidey-sense went off at this message.  For some more super-hero references check out Greta's blog.  Michelle also talks about reader responsibility in her blog, and gives some ways to fact check our sources. 

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5 Comments

Jeanine O'Neal said:

Hey Josie,

I commented back about my blog for this Haiman section. Here's the link if you want to check it out:

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JeanineONeal/2009/11/the_press_non-essential_for_ou.html

Jennifer Prex said:

It makes me wonder if that 53% were disgruntled about something recent that happened with the news media. People have a tendency of venting first and thinking second. The blurred lines certainly wouldn't help matters either, I'm sure.

Richelle Dodaro said:

I really liked your point about misrepresentation being lying or not. I agree that intentional misrepresentation is definitely lying. It's not giving the whole truth and it's being sneaky. However, you make a great point when you question if it's considered lying if the story is seen as a misrepresentation simply because opposing viewpoints were unable to be included. I don't see that as lying. But, maybe if the journalist is aware of the lack of opposing viewpoints, then should that article really be published then? That goes along with the whole idea of press's freedom. If it weren't published, that leaves me wondering if the press is being shortened of their freedom.

Aja Hannah said:

I also feel that misrepresenation is wrong, but sometimes unavoidable. I know that I sometimes don't know what kind of article I'm going to write as I do interviews (as Jerz said), but that doesn't mean that I'm trying to get someone to say or not say something.

About Richelle's comment, in the article that we're doing now I realize that some viewpoints just aren't going to make it into the "real paper" that I layout. It's not because I don't want them to, but there isn't space in the alloted blocks that I'm given and I can't shrink the text any further.

Josie Rush said:

Jennifer, that very well may be the case. I know I didn't have very many nice things to say about my hometown paper after they covered graduation, and really misrepresented the entire ceremony.
Richelle, excellent points. I definitely think if an article was witheld from publication because it failed to represent "every" source, that would reek of censorship. There's really no way to guarantee honesty in reporting except through public attention.
Aja, I think some views just don't get in the final article because they are such a minority that including them would be misrepresentation in itself. Also, as you said, there's limited space, so we cannot interview the 6 million ppl on the planet and include their opinions.

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