Stay dogged and faithful to the last
The Spokesman's editor, Leslie Pugmire Hole, wrote in last week's paper about the journalism profession. Ms. Hole felt "pushed to the wall" because so many bashers of the profession lack perspective, blithely assert that it is easy to be perfect and that no human error should go without demonizing the paper and the reporter, jump to declare an error to be "fake news" or make harsh judgments on the paper or the reporter's humanity.
While she did not say as much, this coarse discourse is exacerbated when too many of us chose to believe social media tweets that assert unverified facts because the social media article appeals to our biases and that too often vents, and threats, are sent anonymously.Ms. Hole acknowledged that journalism is a polarizing business and keeping a balanced perceptive is difficult for many of us. She had no doubt that there are some journalists who do take shortcuts to get ahead or report, out of laziness, on things without doing the necessary due diligence to ferret out the facts. However, during her extensive career she said she has never worked with any of them. In contrast, the editors she worked for or with usually wondered even after the paper went to press what they should or might have done differently. She also believes most reporters agonize over getting all the facts they can and seek to listen to all voices.
As an attorney, now retired, I have felt the sting of unwarranted bricks lobed at my profession at times as well, but my experience was that the profession guided its practitioners by a set of ethics that keeps it an honorable profession. Journalism has its own ethics for guiding its members and Ms. Hole touched on a few of them. It is the ethics practiced by the reporters and the editors that engenders trust by the public in the integrity of a paper's offerings. That integrity is critical to the role a free press plays in our society, be it at a city, region, state or national level. There have been and will be times when that press reports on inconvenient truths and that integrity and our trust in its practitioners is a necessary ingredient in keeping a citizenry informed and our society civil. So, I applaud Ms. Hole and her many colleagues for staying dogged and faithful to the last, despite the often-unfounded criticism leveled at them.
Jim Mattis is a longtime West Linn resident.