John S. James: The 4th Leg
Our democratic government works like a kitchen table, executive branch is one leg, legislative is another, judicial, and then the forth and, I feel the most important leg, free speech and a free press.
As a child I was taught journalism, news gathering and reporting by the press is an important part of our Democracy. It is the “watch dog” of power and leadership at all levels of government. After all, for a democracy to work, all citizens must have access to accurate, timely and honest information concerning current affairs and activities in and by our government. The founders of our nation understood this, and that is why the first amendment protects free speech and the freedom of the press. Without it, we only have information from"official" sources — information direct from the entity concerned with their side of the story only.
Article one: The First Amendment — "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The current administration is doing it’s best to shake the confidence citizens have in this all important fourth leg. The watch dog is under attack by those who are being watched. They are trying to discredit the media as inaccurate and false, when, in fact, it is the other way around and protected as "political speech". It is an attempt to cloud and confuse honest, accurate and truthful journalism about the actions of our government.
It is an old fashioned misinformation campaign — as it is assume citizens will not verify or extend the extra effort to confirm what is being presented as the truth. But common sense is in vast supply in America. Citizens will, in time, sort through these attempts to fool them using "alternate facts."
These government sources clearly think they will continue to get away with it. At one time there was "yellow journalism" — false or manufactured news printed on yellow newsprint as a afternoon edition by William Randolph Hearst and his publications. But our nation identified the mistruth and eventually ignored the source. Now the internet has introduced many new sources of information, it is much easier to create false news — yellow journalism. But citizens will see the lack of truth over time.
As someone who has studied and has a degree in Broadcast Journalism, I can tell you where I get my news — from credible Journalistic organizations that do an excellent job of honest journalism, reporting both sides of a news item without bias. The facts are presented and if analysis or commentary is included, it is identified as such. They practice and present good journalism and news reporting. With a little thought, these new sources are easy to find.
A majority of Americans can "feel" when they are being told the truth. And truth is the only thing which will make American great again.
John S. James is an Arizona-based media producer specializing in live TV sports and programming.