When politicians start spouting off about ethics – more today than in any other time in history, it seems – the BS detector goes off the charts.
So when a group of Georgia state lawmakers this week announced a bill that would enforce “journalism ethics”, it was a three-alarmer.
State Rep. Andy Welch (R), the lawmaker spearheading the HB734 bill, recently complained about an interview with a reporter that he felt was unfair.
Pardon us, we need to stop laughing.
Welch and his co-sponsors want to establish a “journalism ethics board” that would enforce “canons of ethics” for journalists and news organizations in the state.
The bill would set up a board, consisting of current journalists and a journalism professor, who would develop and enforce “canons of ethics for journalism which shall comport with industry standards regarding factual and ethical reporting.” The board would evaluate media-related complaints from Georgia residents and penalize journalists by stripping their accreditation or putting them on probation.
Under the bill, any person interviewed by the media would have the right to request audio, video and/or photos of their interviews for free and could sue reporters and news organizations if they fail to provide them.
Here’s the thing, folks.
Journalism today is a flawed profession. Always has been.
But the First Amendment was put there for a reason – and the reason wasn’t to allow politicians to screw around with it to make their lives move comfortable.
It is consumers who are going to make the decisions about journalism’s veracity and fairness.
The Founding Fathers expected a smart populace in the country – not one that needed politicians to set up “ethics” board to stifle what should be aggressive journalists.
Journalism is supposed to speak on behalf of the people – not the rules..
And it is a delicate balance that doesn’t need the help of a few lawmakers made uncomfortable when tough questions are tossed at them.