“The Media” is not America’s Big Bad Wolf — especially local media

I find it a bit disheartening when people deride the media and lump all outlets together. Thanks to the first amendment, we have the most open media in the world, and I don’t think anyone would want to lose that.

Yes, media outlets, like everything else, have their problems. No one and no thing is perfect. And I can assure you that no mainstream media outlet of any repute starts its day wondering how it can create “fake news” and bring down elected officials. It just isn’t done. I know this from my experience as a journalist — now retired — with nearly 30 years in.

I think it’s important that we realize exactly what the media is. Many people consider the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN or FOX News “The Media.” And, depending on your political bent, those outlets are either good things or bad things.

Many believe the ones they dislike are out to destroy America, while others praise the ones they like for bringing positive information to their doorsteps, TV sets or computer screens.

And that’s OK. It’s as it should be. America would be a pretty dull place if we all agreed on everything.

Journalists are America’s eyes and ears when it comes to watching over our government and performing oversight that some officials prefer not to do.

But the media is more than that. It’s where we get basic information, including why the police were at a certain house late at night, why the freeway is closed and who won the local spelling bee.

Small, local newspapers are a major part of the media and a staple of our democracy. In fact, I would suggest that these operations are the most important news outlets we have in this country.

These papers are where everyday people can express their opinions on the editorial pages through letters and guest columns; it’s where we find out how our local school sports teams are doing, and where we can read local obituaries and find out which of our neighbors have died.

I believe I can speak to this because of my experience in local news. I have spent countless hours sitting in all sorts of meetings – city council, school board, county supervisor and other smaller boards.

I have seen dedicated elected officials — just regular folk, most of them — put in considerable time in these long, drawn-out sessions only to be criticized and pilloried for their work. (And I never fully understood why they did it.)

The public is not very forgiving when it comes to its elected officials.

But then we wouldn’t know about any of this if not for local media.

People don’t have to like what the media does or how it does it. And we in the media know and understand that. I know no journalist who went into the field to be loved.

What drives local journalists is a healthy curiosity and a desire to keep the public informed. It’s not always an easy job, and, to be honest, it not the highest-paying profession either. But it can be extremely satisfying.

I don’t know how many times people have thanked me for recognizing their good works in stories I did about them. Or how appreciative parents have been when I wrote a positive story about something their child did.

My point here is to remind people that “The Media” is not America’s Big Bad Wolf, but a necessary part of our democracy, and that we would be in pretty bad shape without it.

Published by Mike Sturman

I am a retired journalist with nearly 30 years in the field, during which time I was a reporter and held numerous editor positions at local newspapers and a number of magazines. After I retired, I was a sub in my local school district, then did PR for that district. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in journalism, and as for my politics, that's simple: I'm a liberal Democrat. I'm married, and my wife recently retired after 25 years as a teacher. We have one daughter, who has earned her PhD and works at a UC. Through this blog, I hope to pass on some interesting thoughts and ideas, entertain with some lighthearted posts and generally quell my pandemic-induced boredom.

3 thoughts on ““The Media” is not America’s Big Bad Wolf — especially local media

  1. I will always be thankful for the media that can keep me informed. I think the real big bad wolf is those involved in spreading misleading and inflammatory information that can lead to things like anti-mask people and those who insist on calling COVID-19 another “flu.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Mike Sturman!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. I should have guessed that you were a highly intelligent journalist and a caring democrat. Makes me like you even more. I don’t pay attention to these folks that rant and rage about idiotic b.s. They just need to wake up and do the right thing. How dare some of them not pay attention to what’s going on in this world today. Is it really too much for them to wear a mask?!! If so, stay the heck home! Sadly to say, they truly are self absorbed. Let’s just keep on spreading love & light to those who need it. And God knows, there are a lot of people in this world that do!

    Like

  3. Thank you Heather! I agree with you 100%. If they aren’t willing to wear a mask, then they need to stay at home. Extremely inconsiderate people out there! Let’s just keep on keeping on with love for the believer’s, and wear our masks for them and for ourselves too!

    Like

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