In an era when the United States president has declared the media the enemy of the people, journalists should take extra measures to demonstrate transparency while doing the job they’ve always done: documenting history as it happens, Weld Editor Nick Patterson told Alabama Media Professionals members April 13.
“If we continue to do that, we’ll make good on our end of the bargain,” he said.
Patterson began his talk, titled “Journalism in the Crossfire,” by reminding attendees of the hallowed place journalism and journalists held in American society from the nation’s founding through much of the 20th century, when pop culture icons including superheroes Clark Kent and Lois Lane reflected the public’s respect for journalists as intrepid defenders of the weak and oppressed. Noting that the founding fathers – and most citizens until relatively recently – viewed journalists’ work as essential to democracy, Patterson offered several quotes by Thomas Jefferson, including: “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press.”
After years of growing mistrust of the media, which the general public now takes to include social media, the alt right press and fake news, Patterson advises journalists to stay the course. He said media professionals should work to show audiences what they present is not fake news, but verifiably true. A backlash against attacks on the press is forming, Patterson said, through support of traditional media outlets and donations to organizations such as ProPublica and initiatives such as Weld’s The Fourth Check. President George W. Bush recently spoke about the value of the press, he added, and programs to teach children media literacy are sprouting. While it’s too soon to tell whether appreciation for journalism’s role in society will rebound or journalists’ credibility will continue to crumble, Patterson said, the mission of the press remains the same – to tell readers, viewers and listeners about the world they’re living in while they’re living in it.
Dianne Bragg, assistant professor in the Journalism and Creative Media Department at The University of Alabama, emceed the Communications Contest portion of the event, announcing 32 awards in the 2017 AMP Communications Contest, including 16 for first place. Those who won first place at the state level are eligible to compete in the 2017 National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest.
Elaine Hobson Miller, a semi-retired writer and co-director of the NFPW 2017 Communications Conference to be held in Birmingham Sept. 7-9, won the Communicator of Achievement Award.
In presenting the award, outgoing AMP President Meredith Cummings said Miller can write anything from obituaries to feature stories and is “a woman of integrity, talent and generosity.”
New AMP officers include President Mary Wimberley, who recently retired from Samford University after serving more than 42 years on its communications staff. Wimberley said she is looking forward to an exciting and historic year for AMP as the organization hosts the NFPW annual conference. Other officers:
Vice President – Public Communications: Allison Adams
Internal Communications / Secretary: Olivia McMurrey
Vice President – Membership: Virginia Martin
Vice President – Advanced Educational Programs: Solomon Crenshaw, Jr.
Treasurer: Lisa Harris
You may contact our officers here.