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Keith Brown

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Where Did We Go Wrong?

Posted: 09/21/2012 3:51 pm

I am a reporter. I write about what's in front of me, to the best of my ability and with the highest degree of accuracy possible.

That is what I do. It is how I feed my family. It is among the reasons I get out of bed in the morning. It is all I've ever been good at.

I am a reporter. It is what I was trained to do in journalism school. I took my training seriously. I worked hard to pass my classes, because my instructors were also serious about what I learned. They were bastards. They gave no slack. Excuses were not tolerated, they were brutally mocked. Deadlines were chiseled in stone. Lots and lots of my fellow students failed.

Journalism school was hard. But I bought in. I worked hard, dropped other classes, focused on how to improve my writing, how to hone my observation. I spent countless hours learning how to craft a story for maximum effect while maintaining its accuracy and truth.

I am a reporter, and my skills are sharp. With my words, I can make you dizzy with the heights of youthful aspiration and plunge you back into the depths of human denigration. And I can do it in five paragraphs. With a quote.

I can make you angry with my investigations; I can make you cry with my storytelling. I've done it for years.

But no one gives a crap. And why should they? The cult of opinion has overtaken what's left of the empty shell of respectability that my profession once enjoyed, and even that is rife with inaccuracy, omission or outright lies.

I am a reporter. It's all I've ever been good at. I'm not Edward R. Murrow, but I'm pretty good. But everywhere, my colleagues are losing jobs, subjective opinion supplants the tenets of news gathering I paid mountains of college loans to learn and reporters continue to hold lower societal regard than even those whose graft we expose.

I'm not asking anyone to play a swan song for the halcyon days of American Journalism or anything. I'm just trying to figure out how reporters have become seen as dispensable where once we were regarded as the guardians of democracy. How did we become part of the problem?

It's an honest question from someone who never gave up on all that bullshit talk of our importance, the last check on power, the thorn in the side of those who would run afoul of truth.

I am a reporter. And I fear for my career and the future of my family.

 

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