It is common wisdom across religions that humans are fellow children of God.
Daily newspapers reflect that faith. Its heart is featuring the community; its soul, holding governments accountable.
One is pleasant and everyone goes home happy.
With the other, it’s basically the opposite.
The second process needs respect, too.
The Constitution of the United States is rather clear about that. There, we read that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.”
That’s really incredible – religion and reporters are equally protected.
I do not doubt that Green River, Wyo., has a reverence for the United States Constitution and its freedoms. In fact, that’s why I’ve been surprised by threats and seeming falsities coming out of the city regarding my reporting, the city and surrounding area’s daily newspaper.
Green River City Councilman Gary Killpack, on multiple occasions, made statements about story items being false without providing basis. Then he called me by name in a meeting – that was inappropriate because it seemed clear that he was trying to compel me to talk when I’m not supposed to be the news. But finding no choice but to defend myself, I did so.
However, the audio on the recording that amounts for its minutes becomes inaudible, if not stopped, when I explain how I got information that other staff conveniently said zilch about.
Also, when I mention the particular provision of legislation that addresses staff’s compliant, that also became inaudible, if not stopped.
The clerk responsible for making this recording did not respond to inquiries about the audio disappearing even at maximum volume.
A school board member said “I take offense to my name … being defamed” without saying how, let alone why anything to which she was referring was accurate. Another gave an assessment for why he thinks Trump says “fake press” (though Trump actually says “fake news”). He also said “BS in the paper” without citing what or why. Another said “the newspaper obtained an unauthorized copy” of documentation without saying why it was “unauthorized.” (Though she has talked about the meeting in which documentation resulted as not having executive privilege, and she provided opinions for that – of there not being a quorum of board members, with no decisions made.)
The Green River Star reported that its “big-city cousins” “probably have share holders to worry about.” None that I know of and I’ve never been asked to write a story out of such interest – or any interest, other than it being a story.
(And unless the Star meant someone else by the term, if “big-city cousins” means doing the role the Constitution protects, then thank you. And according to AP style, the language of newspapers, it’s “shareholders.”)
The Star also wrote “citing incorrect information published earlier this week” without providing any basis for its “incorrect information” claim.
Isn’t that libel?
There have been criticisms as well that simple seem to reflect a need for a tutorial, though basic, for many folks. I recommend AmericanPressInstitute.org/journalism-essentials. Even a blog post from a company that does public relations, which is the opposite of journalism, concerns 10 ways a story can be a story. Reasons include “proximity,” “consequence,” “conflict” and “impact.”
Daily newspapers and their government reporters, speaking truth to power, have a sacred task. If people can only resort to claims, without any evidence, we may be doing OK meeting the demands required of us.
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