“A free and independent press, truly independent, fiercely independent when necessary, is the red beating heart of freedom and democracy.”
Recently I began taking an MOOC course on Udemy called Dan Rather on Journalism & Finding the Truth in the News. I am a just over 70% finished so I thought I would start sharing about what I have learned.
If anyone is interested in learning some of the most valuable information about the journalism craft from a leading journalist with a lot of experience I would highly consider checking this out. The insight and knowledge that Rather gives throughout this video series is something that I would love to hear more of from some other top names in journalism. Especially when it comes to television news.
In the beginning few videos Dan Rather sets the stage with filling the student in on what the landscape of journalism looks like in our present day. Immediately we are encouraged to memorize the quote that I began this piece with.
Journalists are to be independent, knowledgeable and unbiased. Go after the truth as best you can. Even when it may not be within your comfort zone. Rather highly emphasizes the independent part. Specifically in regards to exposing the secrets of people in power. Or maybe in other words holding them accountable. This could be anyone from government to CEOs of large companies, to A-List celebrities.
We are also given early on Dan Rather’s definition of news as information or truths that need to be told. Usually this news is something that those people of power don’t want getting out. It is then the job of the reporter to find out those truths and share them as a public service.
Freedom of the press as outlined in the Bill of Rights is what makes a democratic society thrive and succeed.
In 2017 the media is in danger of losing not only its power but also its credibility.
Why? I will use another direct quote from Dan Rather for that one.
“The main voice that’s challenging the continued ability of the news to speak truth to power is the public’s perception of just what news is and what it should be.”
The mainstream media in many cases has fallen into the trap of trying to always be politically correct. They don’t want to offend anyone. Rather uses the phrase, “go along to get along.”
The issue today is that there is a major decline in unbiased reporting and ethics. We have different entities that express different points of view instead of straight facts. Opinion shows are not news shows. They are points of view based on the host’s opinion of something that a journalist reported on in the news.
What happens with these types of programs is that you are left with different versions of the truth based on opinion. Then we are left with trying to figure out which is the actual truth.
Journalists are public servants. We should be in search of truth no matter how we feel about it. This is the news that people want to read. They want to see the facts and then make decisions themselves. Journalists don’t make of the minds of the people. They do the best they can to provide accurate information so that people can use their own convictions to decide.
This is part of why I am studying and pursuing this career. I’ve mentioned many times how much people mean to me. My feeling is that it is my duty to be a journalist. To get out there and tell people the truth about things they must know about.
Certainly I have my own opinions. I have shared them in the past. Now it is time to move away from that and begin a new chapter of truth. Commit to a higher purpose and pursue what has been a dream for years.
I am excited for the journey and hope you will be right here following along with me.