When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together. But the carnival barkers that so dominate our public debate today are not going away — and neither is the Internet. All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did — so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people’s first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it.
A journalist serves the people.
It cracks me up (a.k.a. pisses me off) when a supposed journalist says he is trying to help a company, no matter how small or scrappy, by posting an article about that company.
A journalist’s calling is to inform and serve the Third Estate — that is, the people with little or no power or influence in this world. Not politicians, not capitalists, not moral or religious leaders. In telling all sides of a story for the benefit of the proletariat alone, it is often the case that some companies and some individuals will also profit, at least to the extent that they operate in the best interest of the masses.
Journalists are accordingly called upon to be doubly skeptical (in the original sense) as compared to the average citizen. They’re not only looking out for their own best interest; they’re also attempting to safeguard that of their fellow human being and, when necessary, warn him of possible danger.
Comparing and contrasting bloggers with journalists, Jolie O'Dell explains a few fundamentals of journalism.