Do you receive a lot of information these days? I do, and a great portion of it is pure junk. Hogwash.
I am referring to emails that purport to contain a speech or column made by some prominent individual, and it turns out not to be so.
Or it might be an email that purports to be a column from the editorial page of a prominent newspaper, and it turns out not to be. Other examples are news or, should I say what pretends to be news, about what some public official did or did not do, and that turns out to be bogus as well.
This is not limited to email and web sites.
Other examples are statements made as fact on talk radio or talk television which also turn out to be plainly wrong. And most regrettably some false statements originate from the highest office in the land.
So flooded with an overload of information, much of which turns out to be bogus, where does the American citizen turn for information that has been researched, substantiated, edited, and is reliable?
I submit that the prime repositories for trustworthy information are, and should be, the local newspaper, the local broadcaster, and the established and historically recognized national print media and networks.
What is it these publications and broadcasters provide that other purveyors of so-called “information” do not?
I can think of these:
(1) Fact checking and verification before publication;
(2) Editorial supervision to ensure substantiation, good writing, fairness and decency; and
(3) The willingness to retract and correct information that is subsequently determined to have been published or broadcast in error.
These are qualities that are missing from so much of the “information” with which the public is bombarded.
Some may refer derisively to good journalism as the “drive-by media” or “mainstream media.” I join instead with Jefferson, Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln and Churchill in saying that a free press is a bedrock of democracy.
Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.” He also stated, “When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
James Madison stated, “A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with power which knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy, or perhaps both.” And it was Churchill who stated, “A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous form of tyranny.”
On the other side of the ledger, consider what Lenin said: “Why should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized?”
Napoleon put it this way: “A journalist is a grumbler, a censurer, a giver of advice, a regent of sovereigns, a tudor of nations. Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”
And, it was Hitler who stated: “We’ve eliminated that conception of political freedom which holds that everybody has the right to say whatever comes into his head.”
Americans should reject suppression or manipulation of good journalism.
Instead, we should cast our lot with the founding fathers whose views can be summed up in one more statement, this one from Franklin: “This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them, cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
From my perspective, those who would label traditional and professional journalists as “enemies of the people,” are actually looking in the mirror and seeing who it is that is actually the real enemy.