Public Service, Journalism and Business: Standing for Freedom
Today, I saw a very amazing man I once interviewed a year ago: John Siegenthaler, Sr., civil rights activist and founder of the First Amendment Center. During that interview, he demonstrated through his own life and experiences how he has, and continues, to stand up for freedom.
I saw him on display actually when I visited the Newseum in Washington D.C. this past Saturday, which might have just edged out the Smithsonian’s American History museum as my favorite museum in Washington.
I will forever consider myself a journalist. Let me explain.
I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.
Sadly, with international bureaus decreasing, freedoms of speech being revoked, the modern day multi-media corporations….I feel as if journalism is becoming more of a business and less a public service.
What is journalism? Who is a journalist? We can all practice journalism. We can all follow the ideals and ethics a journalist applies to his or her craft. We can all be journalists, and in ways we may not realize, already ARE journalists.
I asked this very question to NBC’s News correspondent Pete Williams today during his interview at the Newseum. It was fascinating, covering topics from FOIA, government and press relations, bias and more. I left remembering why I went to journalism school and why I will always consider myself a journalist. He advised that to support the pillars of journalism, we should continue amazing reporting – showing others good journalism. I agree. But I also think, we can do more.
The other week I was live on Jonny’s Par-tay. One of the viewers asked each of us what particular cause might be our favorite. I said journalism. Journalism – as a profession- is largely under attack at times, largely criticized, largely…in debate. Journalism…is the conversation, the dialogue, the public sphere, the public agenda. You can’t NOT have journalism in a free society. Journalism, at its root, is the idea that you have the freedom to know, to be informed, to educate yourself and others, to learn, to ask, to question, and to speak.
Thus, I will always be a journalist. Like, Mr. siegenthaler, I will always stand up for freedom and for truth. Won’t you join us?