Enemies of the people pushing fake news, or guardians of democracy and free speech? These seem to be our only options when we talk about the press, particularly the outlets that are the biggest in the country. What’s interesting is, both appear to be fair assessments. On one hand, there is plenty of evidence of our competitors getting things wrong in their haste to report. On the other hand, journalists are at the forefront of the conversations that effect all of us, asking the questions that need to be asked. So which assessment is to be believed? Is there any middle ground that can be held, or is it all black and white? To answer this, we are going to need to take a look back at some key events over the last couple of years, so that we can get a better understanding of what exactly happened. Our story, oddly enough, does not start with the election of 2016. Instead, we will go back a couple of years earlier. Prior to the election of Donald Trump, there was grumbling about media bias, but there wasn’t too much question as to the factual integrity of news stories—with some notable exceptions To get the ball rolling, we need to discuss the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown stories. Those particular stories highlights, in extremely sharp light, the responsibility that reporters have to the public. Regardless of your opinion of the course of events, what we do know is that men died, a movement was started, and the forensic evidence didn’t completely match initial reports. These kinds of stories should be gut-wrenching to report on. They demand to be treated with the most extreme care—they demand caution from their reporters. Our competitors did not handle these stories with the care that they demanded, and because of that, we started down the path of accusations of “fake news.” Less sobering, but still far reaching, is the infamous “Buzzfeed dossier” which—to this point in history—appears to be nearly 100% false. It remains to be seen if there is anything truthful and revelatory in the dossier, but what we do know is that the Buzzfeed story severely undermined trust in major media outlets. Time will tell if there will be redemption in that story, or if it is truly proof-positive of extreme bias in our competitors. At this point, you are probably saying one of two things to yourself. Either you are saying “This guy is completely biased, why should we trust anything that he says?” or you are saying “Is this guy arguing against his own profession? When has the media done right by us?” The answer to both questions is the same. That answer also happens to be the idea behind this site: “You have to keep reading.” By-en-large, reporters get more things right than they get wrong. The weight of responsibility in this profession, however, means that when things are wrong, they are spectacularly wrong. Unfortunately, a handful of stories have overshadowed the amazing work that journalists are doing every single day; asking hard questions on your behalf, and presenting the story as it is. Ignoring the celebrity reporters—pick your poison—local journalists are largely maintaining the call to defend the integrity of the story. To present you with the facts as they are, without attempting to influence your opinions. Occasionally, a celebrity reporter will get the story right as well. We rely on reporters to inform us of what is going on in the world, even if we take what some of them say with a grain of salt these days. There is one last thing that may be missing from the picture, that we should discuss: News outlets are businesses. They are striving to make money, to pay employees, and present you with a product that you are willing to buy. There is no way around it. We know that traditional news organizations are struggling to maintain writers and reporters—Huffington Post, perhaps most famously, recently laid off their entire opinion section in an effort to remain above water. Finally, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this piece, reporters and news outlets can be both enemies and guardians. The power of the written word is awesome, and should not be underestimated. It can be used for the common good, or for specific influence. Everyone at VozWire understands this, and has taken an unspoken pledge to bring integrity back to news, and to work for the common good. The world of professional journalism is unstable, to say the least. It is full of economic uncertainty, accusations from both the public and public officials, and bad reporting. Be that as it may, I have entered this endeavor to work for you, dear reader, so allow me to make a pledge to you. I pledge to do my best to present the facts as they are. I pledge to maintain a level of professionalism that is sorely lacking in other publications, and I pledge to have a discussion with you, not tell you what to think. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s seek a more perfect union together. I look forward to working for you.
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