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Free press serves an important role

By VERSHAY BURKS / VN FEATURES EDITOR
On January 24, 2017

A lot of talk about “fake news” has me thinking that the field of journalism may be in jeopardy.

I agree that fake news does exist, but I think the leader of this country is a bit overzealous in his assumptions about the media.

The United States has three branches of government: the judicial, executive and legislative.

These branches are supposed to provide checks and balances on political power, to make sure it is not concentrated in the hands of one individual or group.

A lot of citizens would agree this is necessary.

However, it takes more than just the three branches of government to keep the powerful in check.

The founding fathers recognized this, and created the First Amendment, guaranteeing our rights to a free press not controlled by the government.

The fourth estate – separate from the government – is one of our most important institutions.

Journalism has a long, proud history of holding power accountable.

Media keep a watchful eye on the branches and inform the public.

The media, for one example, uncovered the Watergate scandal and brought down a dishonest president, Richard Nixon.

In Michigan, the work of journalists contributed to the exposure of a corrupt mayor and problems with the Flint water system.

There are thousands of other examples.

The bottom line is that real journalism reveals truth and stops bad guys.

Real journalism does not sensationalize or spread fake news.

The division in this country is a big problem and presently we’re not living up to our name as the United States.

How do we get to the truth of things if so many people refuse to consider information that challenges their views?

How do we know what’s true anymore?

My biggest question is this: How am I supposed to do my job as a journalist in this country?

I am really not sure at this point.

One thing that I’m sure of is that this country is not what it used to be – or maybe its true colors are just more vivid.

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