As a journalism major in college, I learned a lot about the First Amendment and its importance. I don't have to like or agree with everything that is reported, discussed, aired, etc. However, it must be protected and not be restricted. So, I am very disappointed that the Tennessee Legislature is trying to pass a House Joint Resolution calling some news media outlets fake news and condemn them for denigrating our citizens. It is HJR 0779 and has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee after going to the Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Subcommittee.
As a journalism major in college, I learned a lot about the First Amendment and its importance. I dont have to like or agree with everything that is reported, discussed, aired, etc. However, it must be protected and not be restricted. So, I am very disappointed that the Tennessee Legislature is trying to pass a House Joint Resolution calling some news media outlets fake news and condemn them for denigrating our citizens. It is HJR 0779 and has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee after going to the Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Subcommittee.
This goes against the First Amendment. It is not right to single out certain media outlets that people dont like or dont agree with. If we start that, eventually every publication will have to go away since one side calls certain networks or publications bad, corrupt, or slanted against their cause/people. And, the other side does the same with different publications. And that just shouldnt happen.
Our founders knew the importance of a Free Press. The First Amendment states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
In other words, the press is supposed to be free from government interference. The question might be: Does this apply to the Tennessee Legislature as it does to Congress and the federal government? I think that it does, but I am not a constitutional expert or attorney. That possibly is what the subcommittees will look into.
Even if this resolution is adopted (or passes, I am not sure which), I will not be told how or what to think about the media and media outlets. I will decide that for myself. I will continue to watch and read the media outlets that I decide upon. We all have to determine what we listen to, read, watch, and follow. No one should be telling us that, especially not the Legislature, the governor, or the Congress, or the president.
We may not like what they are writing or airing but they have a right to do so. If we dont like it, we should change the channel, stop reading the article, or write a Letter To The Editor. Instead, we tend to overreact as this resolution is doing, fan the flames of discord, and call the other side awful things cult like, the deep state, etc.
I read and watch both of the publications listed in HJR 0779 as fake news CNN and The Washington Post. I also watch/read/listen to: PBS News, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Associated Press, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Time Magazine, The New York Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, The Oak Ridger, The Knoxville News Sentinel, Oak Ridge Today, The Tennessean, and others.
I dont watch or read them all of the time, but do regularly tune in and do buy papers. The newspaper industry has changed so much in recent years, and fewer people are supporting it. I continue to do my part so local news and other print options continue to be available.
I know people who regularly watch news channels and shows that I totally disagree with. But, is it my right to tell them to stop watching it? No. And, is it their right to tell me to stop watching what I choose? Again, no.
I am passionate about this since my first job out of college was a general assignment reporter for a small, twice-weekly county paper. I covered county government, county agencies, county courts, county commission, county school board, as well as the fire department, police department, sheriff department and ambulance service.
It was fascinating to learn how things work at the local level. It is something that in my opinion needs to continue. We need to know what is going on in our local communities that affect our children, our families, our health, our schools, our business opportunities, our taxes that we owe and so much more.
There are so many platforms now that anyone can write, post, talk, etc. This does concern me if those writers, bloggers or pundits have certain agendas. There are ways to verify the facts of an article. Also just because you dont like an article or a slant, that doesnt mean its fake news.
Perhaps slanted news, or extreme opinion in some cases. Or they are actually printing the truth that you dont acknowledge or agree with. In journalism school, we learned to verify facts, that opinions had no place in a news article, and to take our time without rushing to judgment. So much has changed since then.
I remember the days when Walter Cronkite ended his newscast with And thats the way it is after briefing the audience on the news of the day. Occasionally, he or someone else on the show would air an opinion piece.
Now, there are different bots and sites on Facebook, Twitter, and numerous web sites that post fake news and try to pass it off as real news. These often are re-posted or retweeted without any regard for the truth or who is behind the writing. I keep my guard up for these sites.
And, I may not like what a publication reports or prints, but since we have the First Amendment, they must be allowed to air it or print it. I just dont have to have watch it or read it, since I, too, have a First Amendment right.
A lot could and probably should be improved in the media today. I for one, get sick and tired of the extreme opinions from both sides that are regularly broadcast in the evening. Both have their own slant. I think it is up to us as informed citizens to view both ends of the spectrum to see where the other side is coming from. And to see the difference in how the same stories are told.
To read more about HJR 0779, please click on http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HJR0779. The resolution itself can then be read by clicking on HJR 0779 by Van Huss on the left column of the screen or clicking on http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/111/Bill/HJR0779.pdf.
Patti Truex Cates is an Oak Ridge resident.
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