Words of Wisdom: It’s in the news…

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Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

You can’t be everywhere at once.

And that’s a problem. Some things that happen where you are not, actually matter where you are. Need-to-know and in-the-know don’t always match up.

That’s where the press comes in. The press is made up of people who go see what’s happening and bring it home to the rest of us. The Constitution of the United States guarantees their right to do that and our right to read it. No free people can long keep a community or a nation in operation without it.

In one way, the news is like water. It has to be pure. Polluted water is drinkable, but it will make you sick. We have to know if the source is good.

In recent years a great deal of skepticism has arisen about our news sources. So, this week, your Jamestown Gazette offers our readers a few ideas on how to analyze your water—by which we mean your news, of course—and the places you get it from.

The first test is trust. The best reporters and journalists trust and respect each other and their skills. Journalists who snipe at and defame other journalists want only their particular slant to reach your eyes and ears. They are selling entertainment, not news.

In the political realm, these people are especially dangerous. They act as if the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is useless and possibly dangerous by creating distrust in freedom of the press.

Four-star Admiral William McRaven, commander of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and later chancellor of The University of Texas System recently said, “We must challenge the statement and the sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people. This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

A second test of the news is defamation by media or politicians. It is another sign of news pollution. But solutions are also possible. The Jamestown Gazette, for example, has refused for a decade to publish negative attacks by or about competing politicians. We only publish their accomplishments and their plans so they can be tested on their own merits, not on negative propaganda from an opponent. We have been universally praised for this by the candidates themselves.

Thomas Sowell, an economist, social theorist, and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution said, “If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”

Changing times call for reliable news sources, and few times in our history have brought us more change than the last few years. Trustworthy information, even if some of it seems to be bad news, is crucial. When people know what’s happening and why, they can adjust their expectations, reactions, and plans to suit the times.

As a result, this week, your Jamestown Gazette offers you a special invitation: Join with us!

We would like to expand our staff of writers, reporters, and our ad sales staff as we now serve two states, three counties and 31 zip codes throughout Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Contact the Jamestown Gazette and join us in the exciting challenge of delivering the important, useful, and unbiased news our changing communities need as these new times call for the news that our readers can use.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut