June 21, 2021
By Arthur H. Gunther III
While away from the daily deadline of the newspaper business (regrettably), I forever remain one of the irreverent, questioning, doubting souls with a heart that melts. So in this born-again era of claimed “fake news,” once termed, “You can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper,” I stand stage left, in the wings cheering on working colleagues.
I tell them they are not “civilians” and that they should thank the gods daily, for they belong to a group many like to hate, even plan deviously to dislike. They are the messengers.
Without them, there would be no search for truth. They are not gods; in fact they are so Damon Runyonesque that at best all they can hope for is a long stay in purgatory before reaching heaven. Yet, as charged with reporting the “who, what, when, why, where and how,” they present facts that save lives, expose wrong-doers and celebrate the better side of humanity along with exposing its horrors.
It matters not how they offer reporting – on a stone tablet, nailed to a board in the meeting square, via the telegraph, the telephone, the printing press, the Internet, by the jungle tom toms – people salivate for news, and the scribes must deliver.
Others in the trade, distinctly separate from the reporters, are those who take facts and then offer analysis.
Yes, great and small mistakes are made – injecting opinion in reporting, emoting when presenting facts, hyping stories, working for news outlets that have an agenda. Yet, “leaders” and governments have fallen, advances for humanity have been achieved and ignorance has been revealed by those who have holes in shoe leather from pounding the pavement.
“Fake news” is sometimes that and is generally shown for what it is. But no news at all is to pull covers over our heads and walk to cliff’s edge.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.