Journalism – Something Dear to My Heart

Usually this space is where we discuss some aspect of the sports world.

Last week the subject was Tom Brady and the ramifications of his leaving the Patriots for the Buccaneers.

That was an easy one. Now, it’s not so easy. 

No sports are going on due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, so where do we go?

We go where my thoughts have gone for the past several years. Three-and-a-half years to be exact.

This week, the subject is journalism. 

Something dear to my heart.

I’ve recounted how, as a young boy, my father would bring home as much as eight newspapers a day.

Since sports was the center of my life, we would examine the reporting styles of writers and columnists, and how they covered the local teams.

If you think I’m making up the number of papers I perused almost each day, here they are:

The New York Times, The Herald Tribune, The Daily News, The Mirror, The Journal-American, The Post, The World-Telegram and Sun, and the Long Island Press.

Did I read them all front page to back page? Of course not. 

I concentrated on the sports sections of each, but I also read the front page, and the national news sections.

Every story? Of course not.

But reading and discussing many stories and columns opened the door for a love of journalism that carried me through high school, college and beyond.

At Forest Hills High School, I wrote a sports column for the monthly “Beacon”. It was called “They Make the Headlines”, and it focused on going into depth on a prominent school athlete.

At Syracuse University, I wrote for the “Daily Orange”. How fortunate I was to attend a school that had a first-rate journalism school and a daily newspaper, where deadlines were crucial.

I was proud to be a member of Sigma Delta Chi, the national professional journalistic society.

In my senior year I also did some writing and editing for the Syracuse Herald-Journal, one of the two city newspapers.

So, before I jumped in with both feet into my career in broadcasting, I was taught sound journalism practices. which I continued to utilize as an announcer. 

Proper reporting, commentary, the use of opinion, and all the rest never changed, whether it was written for print, or spoken on the air.

I’ll be honest. Today, I am embarrassed by what I read, see, and hear, in what passes for journalism.

I’m going to ask you to put aside personal views you may have when it comes to politics.

I have never been a zealot, one way or another, for any political figure, or party.

So I am not campaigning here. But I am talking about journalism as I was taught, as I know it, and what I see.

There are some newspapers, who for the most part, do not report the facts in presenting news stories, which should be based on facts, and facts alone. 

They are prejudiced, opinioned “news stories”, meant to sway or influence.

That’s the job of editorials, and Op-Ed pages.

Editorials and Op-Ed pages should be based on opinion. They are labeled as such, and that is their proper place. There is no limit to how many pages they must be. 

The newspaper business has diminished over the years. 

Maybe the volume has decreased, but citizens still rely greatly on their local paper. I consider it the heart and soul of a community.

The Thousand Island Sun, in which this column appears, is one of them.

On a bigger scale, there are the so-called national voices of print journalism. You know who they are.

What they do, to a great extent, is not something I imagine. It is not something I guess. It is not something I think.

It is something I know.

To a great extent, the news stories we see, are not based on facts alone. They are meant to influence, by virtue of printing false information, often from false sources that are not verified, presenting fiction stated as fact, a dangerous practice, to be sure.

We were taught to check sources, even obtaining two means of verification, before we would submit a story.

Sadly, these national publications are well aware of what they are doing. 

Rumors are not checked for veracity. 

There is no doubt, in my opinion, there is an agenda.

The same is true for broadcast journalism.

However, there is more room for opinion, since guests flood the airwaves of the many cable news outlets.

And there is no debate as to which way they lean. That’s the case regardless your political viewpoint. 

You always have a choice.

In recent days, there has been a call by some, not to cover the daily up-dates from the White House, dealing with COVID-19.

This is censorship pure and simple. 

In an effort not to give any coverage to a President who is hated by such networks, their viewers are being deprived of reports by the scientists who may have valuable advice and information.

I started following Presidential elections in 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower began the first of his two terms.

I was nine years old at the time, and was as enthralled at the phenomenon of these national elections every four years, as I was with sports.

I’ve lived with the emergence of so many Presidents throughout my life.

Some I’ve liked, others I haven’t.

It’s not been about one party over another. But I admit, it has been about my stance on issues.

When a President was elected who I opposed, I nevertheless supported his time in office.

My philosophy has always been, if you don’t like the President, vote him out. Elect someone else.

But I am dismayed that what has transpired the past three-and-a half years has done considerable damage to the journalism profession.

 I truly believe Americans are aware what’s going on in the world of communication.

They don’t like it.

I am passionate about journalism. 

And I am concerned.