Monday, April 04, 2005

Media And Democracy

The last Hearst Distinguished Lecture Series 2005 at FIU took place last Wednesday, March 30 at the Wolfe Center ballroom at 6:00 p.m. The panelists were CNN Talent Development Senior Vice President Princell Hair; Miami Herald Investigative Reporter David Kidwell, Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell and Attorney/Journalist Bruce Sanford.

The reason I'm being specific is because this was one of the most interesting lectures; it touches upon a very fragile topic: Media and democracy. As SJMC Dean Lilian L. Kopenhaver mentioned, "American journalism is under assault as never before. U.S federal judges hold more and more reporters in contempt of sources, market and profit pressures..."

During my time in the lecture, I have written some of their quotes that really stuck on my mind. For example, Attorney Sanford said, "We have had a harsh time since the Watergate scandal." Paradoxically, this has been the most important event that changed the history of American Journalism, but this form of investigative journalsim is also seen as a threat to American democracy, as seen also in the Pentagon Papers, when the government didn't want the New York Times to disclose such important document.

David Kidwell's experience corroborated that a journalist must have guts to defend his principles and truth, otherwise, "if you can't keep the promise, don't be a journalist." He explained that journalism needs real reporters more than ever instead of having "talking heads on TV than real newsanchors."

When I heard his words, I asked to myself how far I can go if I have a confidential content to be published. If I have a family, would I be able to se them aside and defend what I believe? I'm sure many of you would ask the same questions. However, I must agree with some of my Online News classmates. Kidwell overshadowed the other panelists who also seemed to have different opinions which almost heated the lecture.

One of the things I realized is that someone must do the job. Unfortunately, some journalists seem to be intimidated by government's threats. The ones who have defend their Freedom of Speech rights in other countries they even go to prison or to a grave. Even though we have some restrictions from the American government, at least we have a form of democracy in this country.

Even though we have these discussions in public, it is hard to find an equillibrium between privacy and the right for the media to intervene in public affairs. How can we do that? Do we affect a country's interest whatsoever? This forum left me with some unanswered questions...maybe I regretted for not standing in front of the microphone that night.

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