The world lost some true heroes this past year. I am not just talking about police, firemen, doctors, nurses, and soldiers, though all of them risked their lives for us. I am talking about journalists.
It is time to honor them and pause to reflect on the sacrifices they make to preserve our democracy.
Journalists, on the whole, receive little pay that is not proportionate to the hours they put in, nor are they compensated for the abuse they take from people who don’t understand their role as the guardians of truth.
Unfounded claims against the media of fake news that are indiscriminately thrown about with no regard for the facts diminish their jobs.
This past year at least 30 journalists were killed worldwide, doubling the prior year’s total. Though that seems like a relatively low number, it is an ugly one. For every death that takes place, what truths was the world denied hearing? How many more journalists were threatened, jailed, fined, hampered in doing their job, or self-censored out of fear of death, prison, or retaliation?
Mexico, Afghanistan, and the Philippines were particularly dangerous places, due to drug gangs, war, and corruption. How many journalists were blackmailed, paid off, or victims of family members being threatened? There are no statistics kept on such realities.
It is an ugly, ugly landscape for journalists. It always has been. The Mafia, nations at war, civil unrest, drug dealers, and too powerful politicians have always been job hazards for the media. This year, you can also throw in a pandemic.
Our mainstream news media is under attack, literally and figuratively. The media, far smaller in influence and size than a decade ago, much less trusted and respected than in years past, needs help. It needs more citizens to consume and embrace it. It needs protection against frivolous lawsuits, violence, threats of harm or jail, and it needs authoritative figures to stop undermining it with baseless fake-news claims.
It is not up to the government, big business, charities, churches or any institution to singularly resolve this problem, though their help is needed. It is up to citizens to support free speech, speak truth, and help those who serve as a checks-and-balances force. There is no justice, peace, or freedom without an independent, protected, and supported media.
We cannot live in a news-by-tweet world. We are not informed when we rely on mere Google Alerts or a pre-set Apple Newsfeed. We need professional, trained, and protected journalists to give us the facts and perspective about the real world. We need insulation against an ever-expanding universe of social media, where things get filtered, undermined, and manipulated to appease conflicting agendas that leave us confused, conflicted, and misinformed.
Want to help?
Buy a newspaper. Read a magazine. Diversify the media that you consume. Question everything but do not automatically doubt or believe what you are told. Support legal funds for journalists. Protest in support of free speech. Respect free speech by not abusing it and repeating unfounded or inappropriate claims. Call people out on their bullshit claims. Be a part of the solution and not the problem.
Take a moment of silence to honor our fallen journalists, the sacrifices they make, and the risks they take. Then, break your silence by getting informed and speaking out on behalf of a vibrant, free, and sane media.
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.
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