Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lets Try this Again...

Maybe License is the Wrong Word...

There seems to be some confusion over my use of the word "license", so let me try this again. How about a "Seal of Approval" by a reputable Journalist Society offered to journalists? Just as the fortune tellers...I people are now monitored as Meteorologists how about the same structure for their partners at the anchor table? Each station wants to trump its competition by featuring as many Meteorologists as possible. How long ago would the Godfather of weather people, Dick Goddard, have been replaced by a cute young woman reading the forecast if there was not this competition for accurate forecasts by meteorologists. There is some regulation and oversight of these weather people and I assume that their seals can be withdrawn if they start predicting snow in July.

I am not suggesting that you have to go to Journalism school to get a "seal of approval. " I am also not saying that you have to get a "Seal of Approval" before you write anything. I am just saying that if you want to be identified as a journalist then you have to agree to certain standards of fairness, balance, and quality reporting on the facts. Many professions must get a seal of approval or license to operate, and we cheapen the practice of journalism by not setting some standards. Does a beautician or a contractor or a psychiatrist have more impact on our life than a journalist?

We regulate professions for health concerns, the spread of infectious disease, and public safety. Why can't we view tabloid yellow journalism as the spread of distortions that undermine our democracy? If reputable journalists do not get together to shut down the tabloids, they will continue to lose credibility in our society. The first amendment will be meaningless, if there is nothing left to defend. Who is going to rise up to save Channel 19 or Fox News or the ability to see death, blood and sex on the evening news?


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