What’s on Your Mind?
We have reached the point in the year where darkness arrives just after 5pm, and with it a season of sentimentality, where people are a little nicer to each other and more grateful for the little things in life that make a huge difference. Last weekend I enjoyed the company of my family like many, and recited the many things I was thankful for. And like many writers at this season, I am beginning a column that romanticizes our wonderful American tradition of putting on a few extra pounds for one day out of the year.
Ok, enough. This column isn’t about thanksgiving. And it’s not one of those “I am thankful for…” lists either. But I am going to highlight just a couple things that I enjoyed last weekend that did make me more appreciative. I finally had a chance to see Jon Stewart’s new movie Rosewater—a film based on the experience of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari who spent 118 days in state prison in 2009 after appearing with Stewart on The Daily Show. The movie is a jarring reminder that freedom, especially journalistic freedom isn’t free. In the United States we can film a protest in a town square, we can criticize our government officials, we can speak poorly of other nations and we can mock the news. In the vast majority of situations, we can do all of those things without fear of arrest or condemnation by others. And we can make a film about people in the world who do not enjoy the same rights and privileges.
Again, I’m preaching to the choir. But I think this one’s important because not everyone is completely accepting of freedom of the press. As a journalist, I have a responsibility to tell you stories that are often upsetting, uncomfortable, difficult to understand or frightening. People don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear, and a “news fatigue,” often develops. Which brings me to my second item to which I give thanks.
Project Censored, a Californiabased alternative news organization that is part of the Media Freedom Foundation, has identified “10 stories the mainstream media doesn’t want you to read.” At the top of the list is the increasing pollution of the oceans from the absorption of Carbon Dioxide—a topic that often goes unaddressed in coverage of climate change. Further down the list were topics like net neutrality, criminals on Wall Street and nations that receive aid from the US but practice torture. These stories are not sexy. They don’t pop out on the cover of magazines. But they are important because they shine light on national and international issues that affect people’s lives. Last time I checked, that’s what journalism is all about.
Reading that piece gave me inspiration. I wondered if I could find five or 10 stories around the Triad, or North Carolina that deserve more attention. I think we could do it, but it means that I’ll need your help. I want to know what you’re passionate about, what gets you out of bed in the morning. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @Daniel_Schere. I’m not going to guarantee that your topic will be covered, but I’ll give it strong consideration. If there’s one things politics and journalism have in common, it is that both are ultimately supposed to serve the public. What better way to do that than to hear from people directly? This, my friends, is democracy in action. So contact me, and tell me why your issue is so important. If you don’t, you can’t complain about what we cover in the future. If you do, I might cook dinner for you. Well, I don’t know about that but I know that I’ll be thankful to you, and hopefully you’ll also have something else to be thankful for. !