January 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm , by Steve
This is my letter to Time Magazine’s Managing Editor Richard Stengel today. I’m sure we will never see in print… so I thought I’d ask what you think. So what do you think?
You identified in your first paragraph of ‘to our readers’ the very essence of the problem of today’s journalism. ‘As journalists trying to find meaning is what defines us. It’s what we do. And we need to get it right’. Respectfully sir I could not disagree with this assertion any stronger. It is not the job of a journalist to find meaning. Period. It is the job of a journalist to inform the reader, listener or viewer of the facts. It is the job of a journalist to give play by play and not color commentary. We as consumers of your work and that of all media both organized and not is to determine for ourselves what we believe based on the facts you and your professional colleagues provide. I sir do not need you or any news organization to ‘find meaning’ for me or anyone else.
I submit that far too many ‘journalists’ are trying their best each and every day to find meaning for me. As you stated ‘we need to get it right’. Americans have witnessed time and again when you don’t.
I like most Americans can think for myself. Thank you but I do not need you to figure out what I should think. This is true across the entire political spectrum. You were exactly accurate about the discourse from left to right and back again. Any one of us can witness this ridiculous spectacle on a 24 hour news cycle every day. I wonder if those running the major news operations are more Public Relations specialists than journalists. I wonder how many others wonder the same.
I do not arrive at this conclusion lightly. I spent many years as an investigative reporter for local NBC affiliates. My last job was in Columbus Ohio for WCMH an NBC O and O. I determined at that time the world of journalism was spiraling out of control. Too many opinions based on too few facts. I resigned in October 2000 and have never looked back.
My mother was an elementary school teacher for more than 30 years and something she said once rings true today; “It is a teacher’s job to teach a child how to think not what to think”. In my opinion sir it may be something for journalists to ponder as well.