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Re-gaining a little respect

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By John Overby

When did journalists start losing the respect of the public?

Not that the job is about—nor should it be about—gaining that respect, but it seems to me that it was only a short time ago that being a journalist meant something positive.

After all, Superman, the most incorruptible superhero of all time, was a journalist.

The public saw them as great professionals uncovering what certain officials would try to hide. They were seen as helping the common man peer into a realm that they would otherwise never see.
But now?

Journalists are a laughingstock, it appears, especially those at the peaks of the profession.

Misspelling a word means losing all credibility in today’s “See all, tell all” society.

And I think that is where the root of these reservations about the job begins. EVERYONE thinks they’re journalists now.

With the glut of uninformed, incompetent social media users and bloggers clogging cyberspace (There are useful members of these virtual communities, of course; they’re just outnumbered.), it’s a surprise that the Internet is still able to properly function.

Instant mass communication has allowed anyone and everyone to share their opinions and also “expose” others’ business.

Cell phone journalism is where this industry is going, and it’s definitely for the better. But putting that power in the wrong hands can have dire consequences.

Being a journalist is more than about snap judgments. It’s about putting the research in, chasing down the right source and then breaking the story once all the facts are in.

But if that “see all, tell all” crowd of non-journalists is the root of where the disrespects stems, we are the trunk.

The blame falls squarely on the shoulder of some (most?) journalists that have tarnished what should be a good name.

To satisfy the instant gratification crowd—now soundly in the majority—lazy journalists have taken major shortcuts to get the scoop.

That has always been the goal but now doing so is only a click of a button away to do so. Time is of the essence when, in reality, accuracy should trump any and all factors.

Journalism was slow to the game when it comes to the Internet Age.

Now we’re trying to catch up, but we are doing so way too hastily.

And the credibility of ALL journalists have taken a hit.

We as journalists have to find a happy medium to fully serve you the public.

So when did journalists start losing that respect?

When we, the journalists, started disrespecting our own profession with our actions.

And until that changes, journalism will never be seen the same.