Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Thin Line

   Job dedication seems to be a rare occurrence in most occupations. Perhaps I’m looking at the wrong jobs or are just being showed bad examples...all the time, but it seems to be the rare occasion when someone steps up to the plate, and bats a home run in the name of just doing the job.

   Now, before I even get into the meat and potatoes of what I’m going to talk about, let me take note that there are exceptions to the rule...and indeed, the rule may not even be an accurate measure, especially if you look at the recent response and professionalism of Boston’s Finest (and all our first responders) during, and in the wake of, the recent tragedy in Boston. No...I’m talking about the ordinary facing extraordinary circumstances (and no...I don’t consider those that serve to protect us ordinary people).

   I read a recent article about a reporter that is facing serious jail time for being a good journalist. My initial response was astonishment that there are reporters still practicing journalism (especially considering this particular reporter works for Fox News). My next response was profound contemplation about the moral and ethical dilemma this situation presents.

   In a column that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times, I read it in the April 12th (2013) edition of the Boston Herald. Judith Miller wrote about Jana Winter and the possibility that she could be ordered by a state judge to reveal the confidential sources she used in reporting about the Colorado movie theater shootings...or spend time in jail if she refuses to do so once ordered.

   Revealing her sources would be a career ending act. Think about it...who is ever going to talk to a reporter that promises confidentiality, but then doesn’t deliver? Nobody, that’s who. A reporter that can’t get people to talk to them isn’t a reporter anymore. So here we are, teetering on a very thin line between the freedom of information, and the law as defined by a state judge, and to a larger extent, our government.

   I’ve said before how dubious “news” has become, and this is a large part of the reason. Accurate reporting by dedicated journalists are becoming a thing of the past (or has already become perhaps?)because of the controlling of information by those that have interests other than that of informing the public. I’m also aware that this particular sword cuts both ways as I’ve also said that some stories just aren’t news (in my opinion)...but those cases were also motivated by the desire to inform the public. It cuts deeper when the freedom to inform comes up against the right to privacy...but that’s for another post.

   I think it should all be reported and we, the public, should be able to decide if it means anything to us or not. I worry when I see things like...

Fewer and fewer news organizations can afford to fight for the right to publish information in the public interest that the government does not want them to know” - Judith Miller’s disturbing, to say the least, as our right to information is eroding before our very eyes. It’s bad enough when news organizations refuse to cover certain stories. It’s worse when they try and aren’t allowed to.

   There is a thin line that our society is performing a balancing act on and should we fall off, there is no safety net to catch us. We have to decide now, together, the importance of free information or the matter will be decided for us and I doubt we’ll like that decision.

   “A nation cannot remain free if the government alone decides what information it’s citizens are entitled to have” - Judith Miller.

Let that marinate...

*Boston Herald quotes taken from the April 12th edition

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