My thoughts on journalism
I love being a journalist even if I’m not actively ‘working the beat.’ It has been incredible to ‘get to the bottom of stories’ and meet different types of people. I love telling their stories.
There is a need for such journalistic people in our society; it’s one of the tenets of the Constitution. Yeah, it’s that important. There are several famous quotations from our Founding Fathers which expound on the importance of a free press in our democracy.
Journalists, by nature, are explorers and curiosity seekers. We wonder why this happened or how did that happen. We want to find the answers and share with everyone else. I’ll admit I have this drive; always have. I can see in the pattern of my development to career that it was there all along. It ‘drove’ me to journalism without me even knowing.
I have been fortunate that people in this area have been accommodating over the years. I can only think of one instance where a person refused to talk to me. I had done a story on her situation; and it warranted a follow-up story (or so I thought). When I visited her to do that second story, she told me in no uncertain terms that ‘There was no need for another story; and that she wouldn’t answer any questions.’
Since this was a feature article and not a ‘hard news’ one, I let it go and abided by her wishes. There was no one else to ask; she was the subject of the story, so whatever she said…….’went.’ I appreciated her situation and did the right thing. I moved on.
Now, I have been put off by public relations people whose job it is to shield their bosses ‘from the press.’ That’s common, even here in Texomaland. That’s happening more and more as image is becoming paramount in our society. One example from my experience is one of my last stories (or should I say an attempt at a story). I wanted to do an overview story of a local development—one decades in the making. All my attempts to talk to the principal person were ‘screened’ by the company’s PR department.
I even ‘went through channels’ and was still rebuffed on several occasions. My self imposed ‘retirement’ from active journalism was coming fast; so, I decided I wouldn’t do the story after all. I never got to talk to that person who was spearheading the development; and there was no story without that element. What really got to me was that I had been following that story since the beginning of its inception and the start of my journalism career. For almost 20 years, I worked and waited on milestones for it; all the while hoping for that ‘big’ story on the overall development.
I understand people and companies need to do what they think is right. I was just disappointed to not be able to fulfill my oldest and possibly biggest story. It bothers me to this day; maybe it’s that drive still pushing me.
I still watch the state and national picture in our country, especially when it comes to journalism. Nowadays, there seems to be attacks on reporters more often than in recent memory. Of course, journalists are being killed in other parts of the world; that is horrible! Even here in America, there are instances which make me worried for our country. The current administration has barred specific journalists from covering the White House; and at one time, even canceled its regular press conferences.
There have been public verbal attacks on reporters in recent months; even by administration officials, which the president has tacitly approved by non-action and otherwise. I have been following politics for most of my adult life; and this is the first example of such behavior.
Our Founding Fathers knew and believed what a free press did for the fledgling country. It gave the people a voice in questioning the leadership of the time. Our form of government – the great experiment – needed that ‘check and balance’ to work. If not, then we would simply be another monarchy on another continent.
I hope the experiment is working; if not, we have real soul searching to do as a nation and a people.
Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.