I start this week’s 20Something entry with this thought: Why write if you can’t piss anyone off? What if you write the truth that makes some incredibly angry? You are informing them- isn’t that what proper journalism is about?
I wanted to be a journalist since I could remember. From watching Peter Jennings on ABC’s Nightly News as a toddler to a more recent me reading Anna Wintour’s monthly “Letter from the Editor,” I’ve always been memorized by the intriguing and moving lives of journalists. As I step further into my own writing career, addressing everything from bad press releases to local mix martial arts fights, I know that my career experience hasn’t been filled with drama or danger. There are days, though, where I wish that I was penning articles that could sway minds and could possibly get me in trouble (my thoughts and words, not my grammar and spelling- future editors/employers), how the things I write can make a difference on lives and laws. Writing pieces about bands and places to grab lunch is great- they help expand my resume and pay the bills, but lately, I feel like I haven’t been doing enough. I want to uncover deep secrets and help people see the truth.
Bradley Manning was a solider in the US Army when he reportedly shared government secrets. He was arrested in May 2010 and charged with 22 offenses, including aiding “the enemy.” Edward Snowden worked as an intelligence contractor when he allegedly shared government secrets with Wikileaks. Snowden is currently in hiding; his whereabouts unknown. Online publisher Juilan Assange, the founder of the site Wikileaks that publishes global classified documents and other secret intelligence media, resides in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he still manages his infamous website. Journalist Michael Hastings died in a car accident in Hollywood a week ago. A few days prior to the accident, he emailed his colleagues, saying that the FBI was following him. Conspiracy theorists claim the FBI killed him before he came on to a big, incriminating story. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but to me, these men are my heroes.
The first thing I learned in Journalism 101 was to report the truth, whether you’re someone like Stephen Glass or a government informant. Why tell lies, especially when your readers want to read the truth- the truth that is hurting innocent people and could possibly be stopped? Why are we so scared to reveal these truths? To learn and understand them? Why don’t we really want to see what is going in front of our rose-colored glasses? We have a freedom of speech and a freedom of press so why don’t we use it and persecute those that do? According to Manning, he only wanted people to see the truth; without the truth, one cannot make informed decisions as a public.
True, some information can get into the wrong hands and be exploited. But I do firmly believe as an American citizen, we have the right to know what is going on in the world. In OUR world. I salute those who are brave enough to uncover the truth- those whistleblowers, journalists, hacking bloggers- risking their everything to share the things that know with others. Thank you.