Repeaters vs Reporters: There's a difference - 03/10/14
So many factors over the last decade have hastened the pace of news gathering and reporting and hence watered down what you read or see. With 24 hour news cycles, instantaneous live shots, news via social media, online newspapers and cable news---- it's nearly impossible for many reporters to meet their numerous round the clock demands and still have time left over to 'investigate' possible wrongdoing or abuse of power. Unfortunately, this has lead to more propagandists parading around as journalists. They don't have the time or know how to perform the watchdog function of journalism because they've never been given the time to do so. Therefore, they take the easy way out and become repeaters as opposed to reporters. They simply report and print what officials tell them. They reflect the status quo and do nothing to effect change or right wrongs. They, in essence, become an extension of the very government they're being paid to cover supposedly with impartiality. This is a disservice to all news consumers because you aren't getting the whole truth and that type of reporter is not fulfilling his or her true journalistic duty.
I think most journalists started out, as I did 22 years ago, with the altruistic responsibility to hold those in power accountable. Taxpayers themselves are busy doing their own jobs and raising kids and they do not have time to pore through hundreds of documents looking for misuse of government funds or lax spending. This is my job,an awesome responsibility, which I take very seriously. Watchdog journalism is the backbone of my profession. Investigative journalists serve as protectors of taxpayer money. If you want to see anarchy, do away with The Fourth Estate. Freedom of the press and our function as watchdogs helps keep abuse of power and reckless spending in check. I'm thankful to work at a news organization, Fox 17, that still values this function of journalism and invests time in these reports that effect change. We call these reports Waste Watch at Fox 17.
I'll end by saying, sometimes 'officials' who have not followed the rules as they should, will attempt to deflect their displeasure of being exposed. This has happened more recently in the case of Hendersonville where many bona fide news organizations have uncovered questionable spending habits and brought to light some troubling findings. Fox 17 has aired several Waste Watch reports showing city officials using taxpayer funded credit ards to buy wardrobes and using state street aid meant for paving and fixing roads to buy SUV's used for personal use instead. We, at Fox 17,put the information out there and let taxpayers draw their own conclusions. So far, we haven't had one tax payer contact us upset that we're working as a watchdog for them. However, we've had a few select city officials in Hendersonville who like to deflect the truth by attempting to place blame back on reporters for what they call bad publicity. They've blamed reporters because their annual audit was late getting to the state. They say reporters were initiating too many Freedom Of Information Requests and this prevented them from completing the audit on time. There's just no logic there and any right minded taxpaying citizen can see straight through that--- it's deflection at its finest. Now, they're somehow trying to say it's the reporters again who are hurting economic development and causing companies not to choose Hendersonville. Reporters don't hurt a city. Reporting on wrongdoing doesn't hurt a city. The wrongdoing itself hurts a city. EXPOSURE of misspending doesn't hurt any city. The ACTUAL ACT of misspending is what hurts a city. The cart comes before the horse. There would be no exposure if there were no wrongdoing. That's like a kid, who got into the cookie jar when he wasn't supposed to, blaming his mom for his own actions by saying,'It's my mom's fault because she bought the cookies.' My mom always taught me if you mess up, you fess up. That's still timely today.
I'm proud to be a real journalist, a watchdog, a member of The Fourth Estate. I make no apologies, whatsoever, for doing my job and doing it well. I, too, am here to serve the taxpayers.