I want to come to your house and rewire your electrical system. I’m not an electrician, but I saw a YouTube video on it once.
I want to perform your next surgery. A tummy tuck? Appendectomy? I’m not a surgeon, but I read how to do it on Wikipedia.
I want to plan and build bridges around the country. I’m not an engineer, but I was able to pull up some PDFs from the internet.
You want to report on what’s going on in the city, state, country and world. You’re not a reporter, but you heard about the councilman or the alderman or the congressman. You probably “heard” it by reading about it on social media.
“I heard…” That’s got to be one of our least favorite phrases. “I heard that Senator Pickelson was found half-drunk in a 7-11.”
And thus it begins; what I like to call “Facebook syndrome.” There has been a lot of talk about this in the last couple of years, but to me, as a real, credentialed, credible journalist working among real journalists, the issue is very clear: Without journalism, freedom and democracy are in serious danger.
Is it not obvious enough to everyone by now that the achingly vast majority of “news” you read, particularly in the form of memes, is incomplete or downright fraudulent? Even if it supports your position, you shouldn’t accept it, not if you want to look at yourself in the mirror.
Stop right there, before you use the term “mainstream media.” That phrase has no meaning now.
When you hear people say it, it’s a strawman argument intended to dismiss media organizations that disagree with them. Besides, I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the thousands of dedicated reporters at newspapers around the country who are motivated not by political agenda, but by the idea that we are the watchdogs and guardians of truth.
Do I think all reporters are perfect and completely unbiased? Of course not. I think all reporters are accountable. Their names go on their stories, and they have to answer for it if it goes wrong. That means a world more than a Facebook comment about something you “heard” about someone.
If you’d like to talk more with me about this, I will be at our newspaper’s meet and greet from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Trinity Baptist Church Fellowship Center at 10th and Turner in Ada.
I’ll be happy to talk about photography, too, of course — I am a photographer, first and foremost.