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Some kind of explanation of what we do here

Journalism today is so different compared with what it was just 10 years ago, and yet the crux of it is the same as it was 200 years ago. It's a crazy gig.
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Journalism today is so different compared with what it was just 10 years ago, and yet the crux of it is the same as it was 200 years ago. It's a crazy gig.

Call it delusional thinking, but once in awhile reporters should feel they can make a difference simply by listening, observing, recording, then relaying messages as accurately as they can in a timely manner.

When I first started in this crazy profession, I was attracted by the excitement of the pursuit of a good story that bore repeating. Ego played a role too, as I began to realize that what I wrote was actually being read by others and some of them were actually interested.

The ego side of the business leaves quickly though. And there are no real monetary rewards. Have you ever heard of a rich reporter? I mean a real reporter, not those television talking heads. They are groomed celebrities, not groomed reporters.

Newspapers were the first on the reportage scene. In fact newspapers invented the concept of effective social networking to improve the lives of the people they served. As our friends in the business point out newspapers are the original hand-held information tools, not the apps on your newest telephone. What the heck, The Mercury has been providing social networking information for this community for 107 years.

When I first began in this business in southern Ontario, I was informed by my little Italian friend who worked on the production side of the game that "if you make it to six months, you're in it for life."

More than 40 years later, I guess I'm a lifer and still loving it in spite of what comes with the territory.

Why you might want to know?

Well, because journalism is not really a commodity, it's something dispensed for the public good.

Yes, we toil away in a commercial enterprise, but the mandate in our part of the toy store is to provide information and perhaps even entertain, unfettered by the corporate interests. That's kinda cool my friends, and it's also the height of democracy.

We write something that somebody may not like, so they pull an advertisement, thinking that's a sure way to punish us for writing a truth. It's their loss.

Dollars don't matter when it comes to responsible reporting. The right story does.

That's why reportage, when done correctly, will continue to exist in democratic societies. Credibility is the trump card.

Most countries can't claim to have responsible journalism. As a result, they lag behind. They may have resource riches but they don't have open educational systems or truth in their media. So they lag where it counts.

According to recent research centre results, 61 per cent of original reporting still comes from newspapers. That makes people like me feel pretty good. We're still doing something right in writing. We're not speculating, or spreading gossip or rumours we're checking for the truth behind the rumour or seeking the original story the old fashioned way by looking to the source of the story and getting facts laid out as best we can. The social media may be first with some stories, but with them, there is no responsibility, therefore no culpability and therefore no fact-based platform on which to stand when the critics arrive to view the validity of what is on the screen.

Twenty-eight per cent of the original reporting comes from local television stations so that leaves just seven per cent for radio, which pretty well gave up on original news reporting 20 years ago and the remaining four per cent comes from on-line publications. So your bloggers, twitters and personalized websites are mainly there to be alert systems so stories (truthful or otherwise) get transferred from one place to another.

So hey, here goes a shout out to legitimate reporters wherever they are. Keep plugging away my friends. You make a difference.

And to my little Italian friend far away who is retired now thanks for the warning.