(Originally broadcast on Sept. 28, 2009, on The Frank Show, here.)
Some years back, I read a quote from a famous British editor who was asked what it takes to be a journalist. He answered, in the fine sardonic wit of a good newsman, that it takes two things to be a journalist: a pencil, and a job on a newspaper.
Well, we don’t use these anymore. I brought this one in from home. But in many ways, he was right.
At our best, journalists are little more than clear-eyed observers whose job it is to watch, listen, and then scribble some words to tell you what happened. We are guided by simple principles: report and inform without fear of, or favor to, anyone. Some of us believe we should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To me, that is not the goal but it is often the result of good journalism.
Mostly, our job is to provide you the information you need to change the world should you believe the world needs changing. How it changes is not up to us, but to you.
But in this internet age, it becomes increasingly clear that the British editor, the one with his pencil and his job, left out a third essential ingredient in being a journalist – that is the reader, or in our case, the viewer.
Yes, we need you to watch. And for that to happen, we must give you news that you want and information you need. It is our job to decide some of that. That is what we are paid for, to sift through thousands of stories we see and hear each day and bring you what we believe, in our limited wisdom, are the most important.
But we are not perfect. And we are not everywhere. That is why we, at the Frank Show, welcome your news, your suggestions, your comments, about what’s important in your lives. And we ask that you send us those ideas.
We will endeavor to read them all. Of course, not every email will become a story. We don’t expect you to be a journalist. We cannot offer you a job. But at least we can give you a pencil.