Eric Conklin - Use this One

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“Fake news, media bias and enemy of the people;” all are terms tossed around in my life, and probably in the lives of others.

A recent libel suit, filed by the Trump campaign against The New York Times, and the suspension of ABC News correspondent David Wright, for remarks made against the network and the president, appear to add insult to injury for media professionals.

As a journalist of four years, I’ve been infatuated with developing keenness in my field, learning from reading other reporters’ works as I go. I’ve been as interested in learning more about the field as those absent from it are, such as the general public.

Certain media organizations lean a particular way, and most people, including reporters, detect it. What disturbs me, and hopefully my counterparts, is that people are on a path to being unable to differentiate. With that comes complete distrust, perhaps.

What might America look like if every news organization was distrusted, accused of bias and malicious intent? If Americans are concerned about the Second Amendment being written-off, why not the First Amendment right protecting the press? We’re here to serve, and for that, I’m thankful.

Not everyone has met a journalist or news media professional before. We’re a sporadic bunch, and I’ve learned that unless someone is in the right place at the right time, you may never meet one of us. For shore folk, it’s like seeing dolphins from a beach.

Perhaps, if more media organizations presented the public with opportunities to meet a journalist or two, tension between the public and the press would subside.

I’ve compared a public perception of the news media to our police departments. Not everyone understands their procedures, which has, for a lengthy period, created public distrust of the people who enter law enforcement to keep the public safe.

As the Herald’s digital channels manager, I notice when our paper receives a release about the latest “Cops n’ Coffee” event held by some local police departments. They are a monthly event that should have been an initiative of police departments years ago, as this distrust could have been smothered before it became a wildfire.

Media organizations, especially local newspapers, should model Lower and Middle’s police deparments in creating a community connection based event, allowing the public to be introduced to us. Perhaps, if this were done, fewer people would have conspiracies about what we’re up to in our offices or in front of our laptops.

I would be enthused to meet the audience that reads our weekly work. Further, the community may learn that there’s a face behind the ink printed in the byline and that there are journalists who thrive to uphold the words of our code of ethics.

Come ask, and you shall receive.

ED. NOTE: The author is the editorial assistant at the Cape May County Herald. To contact Conklin, email econklin@cmcherald.com.

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