February 27, 2017

A Slogan that Makes Me do More than Think.

 

I was reading the Washington Post on my phone and under the masthead is a slogan:

“Democracy Dies in Darkness”

Now, I never noticed this before, and maybe this had been there the whole time, but I was struck by the gravity of the statement.

It felt almost like a call to action for me. I thought about it as I looked up the slogan on my search engine, wondering how oblivious I have been to not notice this before now. I was relieved to find out it had only been three days, which is rather like not noticing a haircut, so I didn’t feel so bad about the oversight.

Some people say this is a little jab, or a not so little jab, to our current administration.

I think it’s bigger than that.

I volunteer as an administrator for a website’s Facebook page, and the website owner admonished us to rise above the noise when we promote our news. She reminded us that we are the good guys. That we have our reputation because of who we are and what we do—and what we don’t do. Journalists all over the world have decisions to make in this regard.

I’m not a journalist, but I disseminate information every day.

I use social media and I talk to other people in my day-to-day life, in this way, I have a certain responsibility to make sure that what I am saying is the truth. Not alternative truth or post-fact or any of these other euphemisms constructed to hide or misrepresent facts. In certain circles, this is referred to as “lying.”

I have to process what comes across my brain, so I check things and I have news sources I trust such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and local papers. We need them to do their jobs and it’s more difficult than ever right now to make sure we’re getting the straight story as a news consumer. In order to be an informed public and to keep democracy working, we need these stories, these truths.

The “Democracy dies in darkness” quote comes from Bob Woodward, an associate editor at the Washington Post. Yes, that Bob Woodward.

He read something like it in a First Amendment case from a federal judge and it stuck. I can completely understand, since it stuck with me too. With all the fake news being churned for clicks, and real news being castigated by politicians, that light that real journalism shines is important for anyone interested in being informed, communicating this to others and knowing what to do with the information available.

This is a challenging time to be a journalist and I am grateful for the work these publications do. I have subscriptions because I can, and share things I find relevant. The slogan made me realize that although I am not a journalist, I still need to step up my game as an informed citizen.

 

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Author: Josie Myers

Image: thisisbossi/Flickr/Garry Knight/Flickr

Editor: Molly Murphy

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