For some reason, this did not go out on Friday. This Week’s Winner: The Press. In response to Wednesday’s post on “the luxury of candidates” to define the world so they can stay always on message, an old friend wrote: “I couldn't agree more. It's also the responsibility of journalists to ask the right questions.” The writer is a former journalist, who watched with resigned sadness the evisceration of the daily newspaper his grandfather had founded and his family had run for more than a century. A public conglomerate with no particular interest in the public trust role of journalism had bought the paper, slashed the editorial budget and ultimately killed the paper. That happened – and continues to happen – all across America, as corporate owners in search of a quick buck cut the heart out of newspapers.
The result is fewer reporters who even know how to ask the right questions, and few publishers who care. And because theirs is a profession that requires skill, courage and the time to dig deep, investigative reporters are an endangered species.
It is a profession that we desperately need – and it is one dangerous job. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 898 journalists have been killed since 1992 – 634 of those have been murdered. In many parts of the world, if you ask the right questions you end up dead or behind bars. The trivialization of the profession from both within and without insults those who still try to ask those questions, encourages those who would silence them, and deprives all of us of a vital window to the truth.