September 11, 2010.
Two current examples of how journalists, either because they are incompetent and/or unethical, have caused harm to the nation should worry any journalist (who is competent and ethical).
The popular one, that even a few TV talkers have tried to deal with, is wild coverage of a small-time preacher in Florida who sought fame and fortune by announcing he was going to burn the Koran.
While many journalists and media types excuse coverage of some person or “news” by saying it has been covered on the Internet, on some website or blog, there is no excuse for giving further coverage and most people ask how the mention on some obscure website jumps to discussion on every major TV and news program. How did the public know what was on a website? Does someone spend all day searching every possible website for some sexy news?
It is queer that journalists/media persons can ignore lots of real news and yet constantly repeat every new word from this preacher yet never ask if the preacher, and their pimping/exploiting his claims, might be causing harm to the young men and women in the military, serving to protect our nation from harm. Is “freedom of the press” so sacred it must prevail even if it leads to harm of our nation?
The second questionable actions by a journalist is more specific and possibly made the difference in the success or failure of a proposed passage of a legal attempt to stop same sex marriage, the Proposition 8 in California. If I understand the claim, found in an article on The Bilerico Report by Karen Ocamb, explaining why she did not attend the recent convention of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association in San Francisco.
The reason is that a host was a journalist who acted strangely in the handling of coverage of an event. The first question is why a LGBT journalist with common sense did not see the problem of reporting on some nutty lesbian school teacher who invited her students to witness her wedding in a time when such a marriage was being voted on — Prop 8.
Why support such a stupid, selfish person?
If you are going to cover the event, why would you deliberately make it more controversial by contacting the people who opposed such a marriage? To make the story more “sexy” so that it would sell more papers?
The question for journalistic ethics has been asked before. If you are going to cover an event by an atheist, for instance, why is it a journalists’ rule that you must then contact someone or some organization that hates atheists to give their view? Do you invite an atheist to give an opinion every time you report some religious event or discussion?
There is a possibility that this LGBT journalist helped Prop 8 pass, since the claim had been made by the Mormon church ads that if such marriages were allowed it would lead to support of homosexuality in the schools, indoctrinating children. And here was the LGBT journalist providing the bigots with “proof.”
Perhaps this report is wrong, that the journalist did not put himself into the news instead of reporting it. But the issue has to be dealt with in a generic discussion and the profession needs to tell the public if it approves of journalists, like the entertainers on Fox News, making news, rather than reporting it.