Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shared Sins

Ranch ducks!
This morning I got robospammed by a cute little algorithm who calls herself lorraine. She represents the Society of Professional Journalists.

Before I dig in, let me try to make a couple of things clear. I am, technically, a journalist. Got credentials and ayythang. I write for a weekly ag publication called The Business Farmer, based out of Scottsbluff, Neb., a short 45 miles north of the ranch.

I also worked for several years as writer/reporter/photographer -- and finally -- editor, of Kimball's once hometown newspaper, the Western Nebraska Observer.

Before that I worked on the ol' kollidge newspaper while taking quite a few journalism classes at a nearly-local school of lowish higher learning.

On the first day of newsjay-101 I learned that the purpose of journalism, and therefore the purpose of journalists, is to inform, educate and entertain the public. I was also made aware of the Code of Ethics of the profession, promulgated right there in lorraine's office.

This morning's missive from lorraine referenced a 2012 blog post of mine in which I cited the code and rather took the profession to task. She noted that since I'd done so, she "figured that free press is a subject you care for."

She wanted me to link a blog post which teaches journalists how to do their work in complete secrecy and without transparency. Here's the text of the lovely lorraine's message.
Hello there !
I saw that you mentioned the Society of Professional Journalists on your page so I figured that free press is a subject you care for.
This is not an easy time for journalists all over the world, with the discoveries of surveillance on citizens, which includes journalists and their sources.
I’d like to ask you to share a guide, written by one journalist to his colleagues all over the world. The guide can help them protect their work and fulfil their mission.
If you can add it to your page, as well as share it over social networks, it would be a tremendous help to the free press.
Thanks in advance,

Now here's my suggestion. I suggest you chase the links and read at least a bit of what is on offer. I suggest you look at the code of ethics first. I suggest you note the fact that the code isn't really a standard (should rather than shall), and also think about whether those notions seem appropriate for the exercise of the rights and responsibilities of a free press in this nation -- given the history and reality of the founding of America and her Constitution and Bill of Rights and all that jazz.

And then ask yourself what your responsibility is as a sovereign citizen of the land and as a consumer and user of journalism.

That is all.


  1. Well, I think the Glenn Reynolds puts it very well. I trust the current U. S. press not quite as far as I can throw a full sized anvil.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. A good question might be, should I even think in therms of trusting the press? If we're really interested in news, can we afford to skip the skepticism and verification?

  2. Much food for thought. I chased the link lorraine provided and was less than impressed. While the press serves a role in our society, they are most assuredly NOT unbiased and interested only in the truth. The individual journalists might be, however, as they must needs be work for a living, someone has to pay them. That someone drives what the rest of us see or don't see. As always, follow the money and ask yourself cui bono?

    1. Both the news generating and news consuming segments are badly out of whack. The second can fix the first but the first can't fix the second, and neither, I fear, can the first fix itself.

    2. The fix is in, just not one of unbiased truth...

    3. Fair and balanced is the worst of the lot, imo

  3. The real truth is out there somewhere.
    Even eyewitnesses can be wrong.
    The issue I have with news journalists today is there is no depth to the reporting and many ti es the story is incomplete.

  4. The Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics. Who knew? Must have been pre-Cronkite.

    1. Began with Walter Williams in 1914.'s_Creed