Letter: News journalists are patriots

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2020

As I engage people at Cabin Coffee I often ask, how closely are you following what is going on in the political world? Frequently, as the conversation unfolds, they question whether they can trust what journalists are communicating. I get the impression that they think news journalists just make things up. Opinion columnists in contrast to news journalists give their take on what is going on in the world, but it is based on current events. News stories have the byline of the reporter who conveys the opinions of others from as many perspectives as possible and they also include substantiated facts. I can’t be everywhere, so I need the news journalists to report the words and actions of governmental and political leaders. They are on the front lines watching and listening and reporting. And the stakes are very high.

Since Russian President Putin came to power in March 2000, it is estimated that 21 journalists have been killed.  No convictions or sentencing has occurred for their murders. Journalists pursue the truth, and corrupt leaders like Putin seek ways to silence them.

Most presidents in the United States have admitted that journalists can be very irritating, but what did George W. Bush say about the media? He said the media is “indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it is important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.” This in contrast to Trump who says the press is “the enemy of the American people.” Think about that for awhile.

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If you draw on the news reporting of print media such as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Post, you will gain a pretty consistent view of what is occurring in this world. The same is the case for television news networks ABC, CBS, Fox (not to be confused with Fox News), NBC and PBS (public TV).  They are not making up news, rather they are reporting what they see and hear. And yes, the opinion columnists and commentators give their assessment of this news reporting, making them sole owners of their conclusions and inferences about the facts. Opinions are just that. Unfortunately,  in today’s world, people are confusing opinions with news reporting. Cable networks such as Fox News, CNN and MSNBC blend news and opinion shows. Weekday evenings are full of opinions about ongoing events. 

The  “fake news” epithet  is used by people who are afraid of the truth and think their opinion is the only “real news.” Consistently, there is objective information coming from news reporting. Connect with the sources mentioned above. 

Our news journalists are patriots. They are willing to ask the hard questions and report the answers. Anyone attacking the media as the enemy joins the ranks of Putin. This is dangerous and  not something we should celebrate.

Joel Erickson

Albert Lea