THROUGH THE FIRE: The News

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By BILL WATANABE

One of the pillars of a strong democracy is to have an “informed electorate” that can make wise choices when casting their votes. An informed electorate depends on having access to a free and unfettered media and sources of information and it also depends that those sources of information be fair and based on reason and fact.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly states that Congress cannot prohibit freedom of speech and freedom of the press because the Framers of the Constitution believed in the importance of an informed electorate.

Recently someone asked me, “Where do you get your news?” I told the person that I rely on a number of different news outlets like The L.A. Times, CNN, PBS, and the local and national network TV news. Of course, I read The Rafu Shimpo for local community news!

When I watch TV news or read the papers, I have a basic trust that the news they print or broadcast is honest and truthful so that I can be a responsible and an informed part of the electorate.

It is often not easy for the mass media to present the honest truth because most of the media is a profit-making business. However, there have been a number of movies that tout the virtues of the news-reporting business.

Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein and Robert Redford as Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men” (1976).

One of my all-time favorite movies is “All the President’s Men,” which you probably know is about the infamous Watergate break-in and the fall of Nixon brought on by Washington Post investigative reporters Woodward and Bernstein.

Another good movie is called “Shock and Awe,” telling the inside-story of how the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain tried to get the real facts behind the faked evidence that the Bush/Cheney administration used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The movie “Spotlight” portrayed The Boston Globe’s investigation into the coverup by the powerful Catholic Church in Boston regarding sexual predator priests.

Perhaps the best movie that illustrates the high ideal of newspaper reporting is “The Post,” which shows how publisher Katharine Graham of The Washington Post risked financial ruin in order to print, against government orders, the Pentagon Papers. As a little teaser, “The Post” ends with the break-in of the Watergate complex to hint it is a prequel to “All the President’s Men.”

All of these newspapers and journalists faced tremendous push-back and even threats by powerful institutions in order to bring the facts and truth to the general public so that we can be a better-informed as citizens of this great democracy.

What media do you trust and where do you get your news so you can be part of the “informed electorate”?

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Bill Watanabe writes from Silverlake near downtown Los Angeles and can be contacted at [email protected] Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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