It was interesting to see the response The Explorer got last week after my editorial on what we citizens can really do to reach our elected officials. While I am deeply concerned with seemingly not having a voice unless we have enough money, I am not encouraging any residents to stop trying by any means. I still work to contact my elected officials and I always will, even if at times I feel it seems pointless.

On another note, I had an interesting call from a reader who said he was disappointed in the column because I was selling myself short. Listening to his point, he is correct in that I didn’t even write anything about the impact the media has on our elected officials.

I would never take for granted the power of the press. I do believe the media has a responsibility to inform and educate readers and viewers. I am proud of the work I have done over the last 15 years or so to promote change, help those less fortunate, feature those who do well and have major accomplishments, and now, as an editor to give my opinion in the 600-word space allotted to me each week.

In that space, I do not believe that everyone should agree with me. In fact, I am more pleased when it generates a response either by letters or phone calls with readers expressing an opposing, or just a different viewpoint. That’s what editorials are for.

They aren’t me telling people what to believe. My entire goal week-to-week is just to generate conversation.

When it comes to the media, this gentleman caller was correct in that we have a lot more power to sway change than we realize, although as he stated, we do not have an easy job.

Over the years, media and politics have become a controversial issue. While the media can sway change, and reach our politicians, it has also become the source to blame on many occasions.

Whenever a politician looks bad, or doesn’t like a story or post, many will just point to bad journalism, which is disturbing because most journalists are honest, hard working and just reporting the facts.

Not all of this is the fault of the elected officials either. Over the years, many media outlets have become so immersed in politics that claiming to be objective is almost a joke.

Early in my career, I had a publisher who was adamant about not endorsing any politicians. He taught me early on that if we have articles on the news page claiming to be objective, but then endorse candidates on the opinion pages in the same edition. He is often the voice in my head when it comes to covering politicians. 

Then, I agreed with him and thought he raised some interesting points. Now, I think he had some sort of crystal ball. Look at how much credibility many news outlets lose year after year because of their stance on some political race. Several years ago, John Stewart, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, was called one of the most trusted news anchors in America. I was a little alarmed by those results because it was a comedy show winning on the level of trust.

So, in the end, I will leave these parting words. The reader who called me is absolutely right. We in the press still have the power and a responsibility to educate and inform readers, which may or may not sway change in our politicians. It’s just a power we should never misuse, nor take for granted.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

Healthy debate is the sign democracy is working. We all know the press often takes sides on issues, both in print and in other media. There is subjectivity in all arguments for and against causes. In some cases we can reach a consensus, while other issues are polarizing. If we honestly look at the history of societies around the world, past and present, we discover that the social dynamic is always volatile, and in our own land....we have had one rambunctious and spirited experience.
Should the press be less partisan and more objective? Yes, many would agree. Will it realistically be possible? Based on the track record and deeply entrenched liberalism, I would say a resounding NO. But so long as we can debate the issues on the public stage, so long as all sides have a place at the table, democracy will work. Maybe that is the best we can hope for.

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