It’s not often we stop to ponder our own career, and more often than not, we view the negatives before we readily appreciate the better aspects of what pays the mortgage. And I must say, I have a damn interesting job.
As the Milton Herald editor, I serve as a voice for an impassioned community full of residents who truly love their city. They are the most knowledgeable and active citizens I have witnessed who don’t just gripe when an issue they oppose comes down the pipeline. They channel their voices and concerns and shape the present and future of the unique place they call home.
In covering high school sports, I get to witness firsthand the triumph, heartbreak, unity and passion of the fantastic student athletes in North Fulton and Forsyth County. And in some way, I play a role in these athletes’ futures. When their playing days are long gone, their hairline receded and muscles weakened by age, they can flip open their scrapbook and relive their athletic glory days, showing their grandchildren an article I wrote highlighting their athletic accomplishments on newsprint yellowed by time. My job also allows me to further my own passions, including cars, where each week the newest models are brought to my driveway for me to test and review.
I would prefer no other job. But as with any career, journalism does come with its negatives.
For starters, the hours are long and tedious for chicken feed paychecks. I must balance my home and work life, which is not easy considering, even at a local level, news never stops. There is also the lingering paranoia in my mind that the newspaper industry is slowly but surely shrinking as newsrooms across the country dwindle and struggle.
I was well aware of all these negatives when I joined the journalism profession. What I did not foresee is that, as such, I would be labeled an enemy of the people.
Our president has said on multiple occasions the media is such. While this denouncement is usually predicated with “fake news,” it is fueling a disdain and distrust for what is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects to our society and a founding principal for our nation — a free press.
Now, I will not for a moment say there are not countless talking heads that dribble radical garble under the guise of journalism. And they are not limited to either party affiliation or one particular 24-hour news channel. These are people who care far more about ratings and fueling their own egos than presenting factual information.
This in itself isn’t fake news, however, because it’s opinion. Fake news only occurs when the recipients of these statements take it as fact.
But unfortunately we have seen that many people cannot differentiate between the opinion of these talking heads and facts, so they either take these statements as concrete if they agree or dismiss them as either conservative or liberal propaganda if they don’t.
With that, what constitutes fake news become subjective. And it means that when journalists present factual, accurate information, they can still be labeled an enemy of the people.
Journalists, myself included, still have our own political views. However, anytime I or my fellow Appen Media Group colleagues are criticized for “letting our bias show,” I remember back to the first major lesson of my first collegiate journalism classes a decade ago — never instill your own opinions into articles. And I can assure you, my coworkers and I strictly adhere to that lesson, and I hope that is one of the many reasons you opened this newspaper.
We are not the enemy of the people. We work as the voice of the people, disseminating factual, accurate and timely information so that as a people we can be more informed of the issues that shape our daily lives. We are not the enemy of the people. We are the people.