Thanks, Obama #37 #cong19
Newspapers are all about community because they reflect our lives by being made up of citizens of those same communities. Journalism also engenders a sense of community among a particular paper’s staff given their shared goal of being as informative as possible to their readership.
4 Key Takeaways:
- I’ve been fascinated with communities near and far since I was a kid… hence my interest in journalism.
- Being a journalist often conveys privileges such as literally getting a front row seat to history (see photo within article). But it’s the day-to-day coverage of events within communities large and small that really make the profession worthwhile… such as my job at The Salt Lake Tribune.
- I can’t tell you how damaging the use of the words “fake news” by authoritarian figures are to my profession… and our wider society.
- Thankfully, some authority figures do understand that a free press is one of the key pillars of a functioning democracy.
About Brian Mac Intyre:
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By Brian Mac Intyre
Community literally means the world to me.
I’ve always been fascinated with what makes people tick… whether they’re nearby, or living far, far beyond our borders.
My keen interest in the globe’s daily comings and goings… i.e. news… started when I was a schoolboy, and it was fed as soon as I got home from classes.
I would spread The Irish Times on the carpet of our TV room and scan its headlines. I also used to collect Time magazines when historic events occurred, such as a new US president being elected.
I knew I wanted to go into journalism. And I had no idea at the time what a sense of community it would give me.
But I wanted a fallback too, so I decided to study Economics and Politics in college, given they’re what make the world go round… ie they help build functional communities.
I had a big interest in other countries’ politics too, especially Britain and the United States.
I remember watching Ronald Reagan being sworn in as US president in 1980. In part, it was a fascination with whether or not Iran would release US hostages held in Tehran at the time for 444 days.
The Iranians did so… right after Reagan was sworn in so that his predecessor Jimmy Carter couldn’t claim it as a diplomatic victory.
So I was part of a worldwide community of interested citizens watching events from afar.
And I never imagined that nearly 30 years later I’d be sitting in the front row for another Inauguration to witness the first African-American to take the same oath of office. In fact, I took this photo there. And Obama, of course, started out as a community organiser himself.
But that’s one of the privileges of being part of a community that gets to witness events as they unfold, some of them quite historic indeed.
In my nearly three decades in journalism I’ve gotten to cover the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games and even interview film stars such as Martin Sheen and Cameron Diaz, among others.
And throughout that time I’ve always felt a strong sense of community with fellow journalists, even from rival papers.
We’re all on a mission to inform readers, listeners or viewers of what happened in their world today… because knowing what’s happened in the past will make them better equipped to navigate the future. That’s because stories are all about solving problems, and thereby surviving.
The time I most felt a sense of togetherness and shared struggles was when I worked at The Salt Lake Tribune for nine years (1996-2005).
It was easily the best newspaper job I ever had simply because you felt you were really helping make a difference… in the community.
Our main competition, the Deseret News, was owned by the Mormon Church, while the Trib was owned by an Irish-American Catholic family (for part of my tenure).
And even though it was a majority-Mormon state, the Trib, which styled itself as “Utah’s Independent Voice”, sold twice as many copies as the Deseret News.
Our readers, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, appreciated our independence and, as a result, the paper was largely respected within the wider community.
That’s because, like everyone who works in media, we were part of the community too, with the same wants, needs, gripes, frustrations etc as everyone else.
But this is a fact that’s often forgotten… newspaper people really do care about the communities they live in and want them to perform optimally for as many people as possible.
But one thing that’s deeply damaging to our global media community in recent years is when authoritarian leaders undermine it by calling stories they don’t like “fake news”. It undermines the whole profession and is a deeply disturbing trend.
And Barack Obama, for all his faults, many of which he’d admit to himself, recognised this fact.
Although he brought a host of prosecutions against whistleblowers and leakers, he did make a point of standing up for the media in his last press conference at the White House.
He said: “You’re not supposed to be sycophants — you’re supposed to be skeptics. And having you in this building has helped this place work better.”
According to New York magazine: “The president suggested that the media’s persistent scrutiny of his reaction to crises such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the BP oil spoil had made his administration more responsive to the needs of the public.”
The magazine then quoted him saying: “So America needs you, and our democracy needs you.”
So thanks, Obama… for standing up for my community.
And all of our communities as a result.