I'm learning that journalism encompasses so many different things. When I think of journalism, I generally think of popular television personalities like Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann and Katie Couric. I often make the mistake of gathering my "news" from entertaining commentaries rather than traditional, unbiased sources. I'm learning, though, that journalism is meant to be a profitable art that engages citizens and others in truth. Although polarizing commentaries seem to be the norm in today's culture, journalism is about pursuing truth and reporting facts so that people can make educated decisions about their lives and their government. And people can choose to get their news from various sources. Today, journalism takes shape on television, radio and the internet and in newspapers and magazines. With user-friendly technology available 24/7, journalism is always on-the-go.
|This American flag hangs in a corridor that extends from the Capitol Rotunda. Directly behind the flag is the Speaker's balcony that overlooks Washington, D.C.|
Democracy: a government that derives its power from its citizens. A democracy ought to reflect the will of the governed. I've learned a great deal about democracy, having lived in the U.S. all of my life. I appreciate the rights I possess and the freedoms I express daily. However, a democracy is about so much more than just elections. Although electing officials to represent the public's interests is part of the process ("election politics"), people have the freedom to take action and to evoke change in their communities independent of the government. In a sense, government should be limited in a democracy so it doesn't infringe upon the lives of its people. My thoughts on government fall in line with those of John Dewey who believes the public's participation in government is the key to a vibrant democracy. Unlike Walter Lippmann, Dewey and I have faith in the public's ability to be prudent and to make responsible decisions about the laws that govern them. An elite group of government leaders doesn't have to do that for people. Rather, representatives exist to implement laws on behalf of the people.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Voltaire
On the First Amendment...
The First Amendment protects five of the most important American rights. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." To me, the freedoms of religion and speech are important in particular. Living in a country where I can worship my God without fear of being persecuted is something for which I'm grateful. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to hear of missionaries who have been killed spreading their Christian beliefs in foreign nations. The freedom of religion is often connected to the freedom of speech. It allows me to speak my mind, share my opinions and not worry about receiving backlash from an all powerful government. The freedom of speech reinforces the notion that government reflects the will of the people.
Diversity is a hot topic on college campuses and in society today. Diversity in religion, speech, press, assembly and petition are essential to democracy because it reflects the myriad cultures, customs and values that exist. America is known to be a "melting pot" of people groups, traditions and ideals, so it's important to have a government that respects different beliefs and is proud of different backgrounds. Every day, journalists ensure that diverse voices are incorporated in the marketplace of ideas. Stories of achieving the "American Dream" are showcased on television and reports of injustice ignite debate among national, state and local leaders. Because the Constitution guarantees "liberty and justice for all," news of injustice and inequality brings attention to the issue of diversity. When I think about how I may have experienced diversity in my own life, I am thankful that I live in a nation that allows people to express their individuality. America is full of interesting people who contribute to society in unique ways. Ultimately, diversity sheds light on others' personal experiences and makes the U.S. a stronger country.