I tell myself to calm down, to take less interest in things, to not get so excited and to mind my own business. But the journalists won’t let me. They won't release me from the problems of the day.
Let's agree that journalism is a cornerstone of good government. I think it’s deeper, older and more important than that. Journalists are our story tellers. People are pattern seeking machines. That’s what our brains do - we can't help it. Finding patterns makes us smart, in the sense that we are smart. Since our earliest societies one of our favourite patterns is the story. Stories help us make sense of the world, our relationships, and our inner thoughts. But life is not a story. Life is just a bunch of stuff that happens. Journalists shape life into our story, a story shared by all. Without these stories society could not exist.
In Nova Scotia’s earliest days journalists like Joseph Howe acted as mediators - translators between regular citizens and policy making elites. This is our radical history that made us great. In those days there really wasn’t much to government. Tariffs and duties on trade paid for the infrastructure of wharves and roads that made that trade possible. Law and order was the business of the crown. In Howe’s time the conversation had just begun about the value of public education for all. But even then good citizenship required being informed and having people with the courage to speak out on opinions.
Today in Nova Scotia there is more and more government, more elites making policy and decisions, and more public costs than ever before. Arguably everything is political today. Hardly any aspect of our lives is not touched, taxed, goaded, wrecked, or circumscribed by government, near-monopolies and near government agencies.
Journalism sounds like a fancy word today as most of our media is simply in the business of amusement – selling cars, mortgages, condos, and all the stuff we can own. But there's more...
Journalism is a voice for the voiceless, a watchdog for society, a navigator for our future, and a strong bridge between regular citizens and authority. Journalists are moderators, agenda-setters, investigators, and activists. They are keepers of the public record, recording our story, promoting democracy and encouraging conversation.
Journalists aren’t always popular. Their task is to beard power with boorish expressions of doubt. They seek the truth and put constant pressure on leaders to get answers. They are a mirror that reflects back on society our greatest faults and foibles. They ask us to do more and better, to think more, to learn, to know, and to act. It's painful sometimes.
Today we live in the information age. But it’s also the misinformation age. Lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and contempt for the truth is the reality of most people’s lives. Through a failing education system most of us lack any basic critical method to decide who and what to believe and to what degree. We don't know how to decide. It's leading to disaster. In the face of this mess the rising generation doesn’t become gullible or simple. They become cynical, unbelieving, lost, disconnected people. Non-believers. It’s our last great hope that journalists can reconnect the public with that which we’ve lost. That’s how important journalism is. Our very future depends on it. No other system or institution exists to save the day.
That’s why I support THE HALIFAX EXAMINER.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.