When I got out of school I was out to change the world in my image. I knew a lot of stuff from my classes and the books that line my bedroom wall. I got above average grades, held a letter from my instructor saying what a great student I was. I even had tear sheets that I wrote from the school newspaper.

First I tried the big newspapers and found that I stood in line for hours just to see a gatekeeper who look at me as if I was a pain in her rump. Which I was.

My resume was added to a stack of similar resumes that filled a corner of her room. If she had ten she had a hundred, I even spotted some of my class mates in the lobby veering for the same position.

That is the life of a journalist just minted out of school a more than a little green around the collar so to speak. Each one of us in the lobby were given an assignment to cover a story, usually at city hall. To interview a certain public official, write a story, if needed to do research on that person story to see if it is what they said it was truth or other facts. That person was a ringer who told a whopper of a story. Easy to check on facts of that story.

I was what is known at that time as a string reporter, not a full time reporter but one that was paid in cash to cover a story that regular reporters could / would not cover. I was a cheap reporter, yet if I did a good job I could move up to covering better stories.

It was the good old days where you had a notepad and physically type it up using paper sheets. It was also a time that having a cassette recorder was common as a tool of the trade. My ID did get me into places where I did not have to pay bucks to enter. Sporting games, public events, anything that I could put down words on I attended.

If it was good news I had a comment on it. Wrote, rewrote, and put my name into the opinion page. I also wrote for other reporters, giving them credit for news stories that they could / would not cover.

One of the things I did do was to join news agency as a member. Like the National Press Club in Washington or local press club just to put it on my resume that I'm a reporter and interest in these organizations.

Never hurts to have an ID card saying I'm a member.

 

My face became a fixture in the back room morgue of the paper as it did at the places that other more experience reporters haunted.

Today being a string reporter is just as rough as it was decades ago, but more so. Anyone with a tablet or iPhone can tape live and up load it to a media outlet or their own blog site. The fable that everyone has the right to know what is going on is not so.

Today it seems that the attention span of Americans is in bits of news one liners more as Tweets than stories. Facts have taken a back seat to flash stories that are very common. Respect toward public officials has also vanish as off-the-cuff remarks from unknown sources are spoken as facts.

Code of ethics among reporters who grew up in journalism toward each other is still expected, but that again is lost among the new out of school journalists.

Then you have Facebook where just about anyone with a credit card can run amuck with their opinions of just about any subject matter. If it sounds great they will have a following even if their knowledge of the subject is far off.

Back in 2016 a few people turned a rather dull summer into their own media circus. They created an atmosphere of fake news events. That they could make money off fake news through automated advertising that rewards high traffic to their sites. Making both president hopefuls into public figures with stories be on belief.

As President Obama said," The capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light without any rebuttal — that has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation" as he told a reporter from the New Yorker magazine.

POTUS Trump has a boatload of conspiracy theories lodge against him daily. From just about any one in the US Congress, in the media and or on the Net.

Maybe the worst is yet to come as the next presidential election comes near and with so many hopefuls seeking that position once again fake created news will flood the tablets, iPhones, laptops and desktops of America.

Freedom of press do you not love it.

 

may 19