On January 4th, I ran a column promoting the sale of newspapers since they have been losing money for years and laying off hard working men and women: All for a good cause I would say. A friend of mine posted on my Facebook.com page, “newspapers are a thing of the past. Let’s move on to writing electronically and reach many more people.” Begrudgingly, I am thinking she may have a point and it does truly bother me for several reasons.
I would have to say that one of my favorite sections in any newspaper behind reading the accounts in the news (preferably politics) are the op-ed pages. Over these past eight years, while not trying to emulate anyone writer, I just love to read the opinions of those who write them be they conservative or liberal. At times, I have cheered their intellect and skill as well as their opinion or I have swiftly raised my fist in anger and angst. But, none the less, these writers for the most part are trained individuals with years of experience who have had to prove themselves not only to their editors, as well as to the publishers, but more importantly, the reader. After all, it is the reader that purchases the newspaper.
Normally when one is hired at a newspaper, they must present a resume or where they have been trained as a journalist such as a college education and hopefully they will get hired. But, in this day of citizen journalists which I am a part of, it is not necessarily the case. All it takes is a web site to post one’s thoughts and it is off to the races. The thing that citizen journalists such as me and those that do get paid is that we have paid our dues. Meaning we have actually researched what we have been writing about, because if we do not, you the reader will certainly catch us and much to our embarrassment. In these eight years, I have only had to retract two columns and have actually pulled them in keeping with journalistic integrity. Not a bad ratio if you ask me.
You may be asking why I am writing about this topic as opposed to writing of Roland Burris who has been the topic in several past pieces: At one point I was hoping against hope to someday actually get paid and I suspect that goes for my fellow Internet writers who have like me have sat for hours researching topics, crafting our pieces and today, a news item came to light where Joe The Plumber was hired as a war correspondent for PajamasTV where he will cover the Israeli/Gaza crisis.
My first thought was, I sure need a publicist. My second thought was, it is all about luck and being in the right place at the right time as he was when he confronted then candidate Senator Barack Obama on his tax plan. He then became the darling of the McCain campaign. In the third presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y. his name was mentioned by both candidates over-and-over.
The mainstream media then descended on his home in Ohio and he soon became a pseudo spokesman for McCain campaign because he did not agree with the Obama tax plan when Obama stated “distributing the wealth”. Then he got over his head when one reporter asked him twice if he agreed that “A vote for Obama was a death to Israel” and agreed with that reporter. Surely the man did not do his homework and yours truly even called him out on it. What Joe said was patently false and let us just call it for what it was, a boo-boo. Note to Joe the Plumber, use Google or Yahoo!
Now thinking back to my friend’s response on my Facebook.com page, if this is where the American people will be getting their information, especially coming from that war-torn region, we are all in trouble. This is yet again a case of where Americans will be dumb-down. Then again, in my opinion, they already are. If I had my druthers, oh the questions I would love to pose to this man, but hey he has the spot light and I do not. Good luck, Joe (Samuel), but be sure to bring a helmet and a bullet-proof vest.
I then think of all of the Internet journalists that I have come to know through Buzzflash.com, Citizens for Legitimate Government, OpEdNews.com and other sites too numerous to list and these are world-class writers who have given their all, to bring you first-rate information. Yet, no one knows their names and how hard they have worked over these years. In all three sites I have mentioned above, they have put in their dues, yet are not recognized as is Joe the Plumber and I find that a disservice to you the readers.
Even the mainstream journalists I have come to know over these past eight years, it is a disservice to them as well. Several I have been in contact with over these years are on television and within the print media and have been trained and they have truly done their homework bringing you the news fit to print, read and view.
While I suppose Joe the Plumber will get paid real-hard-cash, one thing he cannot take away from writers like me is the years of interaction with you the readers. For eight years, I have received so many emails from readers who have been and are in need of help and I have tried to be your voice and I do suspect other Internet writers who have done their homework have and to me, that is my payment in all of this. The letter that most sticks out in my mind is that of a reader whose Social Security benefits were about to be cut and was ready to commit suicide, quietly and without it being published by me, I emailed him strongly suggesting he get professional counseling for which he thanked me.
There were two columns where I presented the voices coming from Katrina, so you the reader would know how they were fairing at that moment in time. If I could have helped any one of them, that is most certainly my payment.
But, if this is the new avenue of journalism, my only advice to you, the reader is to also do your homework. Make sure the information that is being relayed to you is true and where you do trust the source of it.
Lastly, I just could not let this one go: If you, Joe the Plumber are reading this, what is the Balfour Declaration of 1917? I know and many others do, but do you? If not, you have your homework cut out for you since you are going to be covering that part of the world.
Author’s email address is, firstname.lastname@example.org
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