Monday, April 29, 2013


You know, the ones who really bring us the information the IT people then distribute by tweet or app, by TV or radio or print..I'm talking about journalists: reporters, editors, photographers..the people who gather the news to start with--those others are often just distribution.
First, SPJ--the Society of Professional Journalists..issued its annual awards for distinguished reporting. (UK has a student chapter on campus and the Blue Grass also has a professional chapter.) As usual the awards went to networks and major papers, and to small radio stations, and weekly papers..all of whom earned their awards by serving their communities.
Then, The UK Journalism alumni inducted five new members of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame..from a deceased TV manager, who greatly expanded his station's news coverage, to a lady reporter who broke the gender line covering many sports.
As part of those activities, Al Tompkins, a Kentuckian who is now Senior Faculty at the Poynter Institute gave the major address..richly illustrated by recent news event..including a lot of mistakes and errors by the media covering the Boston bombings. (Meanwhile a full page of problems in that coverage graced the Courier-Journal under this headline: "Dear CNN: Just Say We Don't Know.")  Speculation at such free form events has always been one of the media's problems, but the 24 hour news channels have confounded this in spades. Tompkins pointed out newspaper headlines identifying the "Bag Men"--but the 2 men shown had nothing to do with the bombs--nor did several other persons named in print, and many more online, as suspects or culprits. As Tompkins put it.."Speculation is not journalism."
But do not discredit the power of the media, even that old fashioned one the Associated Press..when hackers broke into AP's website with a false story of bombs at the White House, the stock market dropped 130 points in 3 minutes.
Al also reminded us that "seeing is not understanding", and called on his colleagues to "make sense of the news" especially after verifying the facts.
Talks like his, recognition of top Kentuckian journalists, and major annual awards like SPJ's serve to keep us on our toes..for journalism has a great calling in this Information Age. Journalists supply the information, hopefully factual and fair, so the rest of the digital scribners can get it out to you and me.
I'm just sayin'...

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