By JEFF JOBE
It is frowned upon, considered disrespectful and something you just don’t do. Newspaper reporters do not challenge one another.
This is the way it has been for all my 30 years inside the industry I love. I have written before, I feel it is my calling to be a community newspaper publisher. I believe a free-press is without a doubt the cornerstone for what makes America the greatest country in the world. I further believe balance is essential for accurate and fair coverage; and with that being said I will be the first to admit we all have some degree of bias.
Yet, in the early days of my career news coverage was quite simple. The people asking questions at press conferences were reporters trying to get the facts for a clear understanding of the subject at hand. It was important for one reason and that reason was so we could explain it in detail to our readers.
An official would open the floor for questions after making an announcement. When anyone asked a question it was done with respect and it was given in return. But this is not how it has evolved in today’s politically tainted media coverage.
I have watched and listened as my fellow reporters ignore the subject matter all together in which a press conference was held and instead literally challenge an official.
It may seem hard for my readers in rural Kentucky to believe but I have witnessed a reporter get in the face, inches from an official and loudly call them a liar. I actually stepped between an overzealous political writer and a gubernatorial candidate during the last primary and joked, “not all of us hate you just because you are a Republican.”
Politicians are easy prey, you see a politician will more than likely take the yelling and walk away. Can you just imagine the coverage if this Republican primary candidate had yelled back, or perhaps defended his personal space by pushing this unbalanced reporter away from him? Gosh, it would have been front page of every daily in Kentucky and have a good chance of making it to national television.
But the verbal assaults and bullying are not only reserved for the candidates themselves but their communication people are always under attack. It was not at all uncommon to have this same individual or one of the short list of Frankfort reporters misrepresent comments and refuse to acknowledge their mistakes.
The print media has enjoyed a long ride in wielding political influence and I will go so far and say that for the most part it is deserved and well earned. It is hard work and low pay to do what is asked of newspaper reporters. We are bullied and challenged at every turn but this gives no right for us to do the same. Without a doubt the reporters crying today for not having unlimited access are in most cases the ones causing the problems. Bullying is no way to get or give respect.
I have many friends who own and publish newspapers through-out Kentucky and I have yet to speak with any who feel Governor Matt Bevin is unapproachable, rude, or anything less than very open to most any subject they feel is important to the communities we serve.
So it comes as no surprise that Governor Matt Bevin has chosen to stop allowing himself and his staff from being bullied and attacked by the same three or four political writers who do all they can to discredit him and take his message straight to the communities who elected him.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com