On My Soapbox: With great power . . .

This column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jason Hennington. This is NOT the opinion of the Taylor Press.

I’m sure you all know the rest of the quote in the headline. In case you don’t, it’s “comes great responsibility.”

I’ve learned over the years, specifically the most recent seven years, that journalists have a great responsibility to their communities. So, do they have great power?

The answer is yes.

The pen is mightier than the sword – cliché, I know – because newspapers tell the story of what has happened. Whether it is school related, crime related or just something interesting in the community. Unfortunately for some, the power of the pen has more of an impact on some than others.

However, it is our responsibility to report what happens – good, bad or indifferent. It is also our responsibility to tell both sides of a story. It is normal to offer each side an opportunity to speak, it’s their choice to accept or reject the offer.

Because of the power of the pen, a lot of negativity comes our way. That does not stop us (most of us) from being responsible.

If you know me, you know I am not an arrogant guy. I make jokes about my ability every now and again, but never take myself too seriously. So, having the power of the pen is something I value and take pride in. If I write something, I have done my due diligence to get the information and ask all the right questions.

That doesn’t all reflect in feedback. And, that’s okay. What bothers me is questioning my journalistic integrity and intelligence. I don’t make up the articles, it comes from a source. And this applies to the majority of journalists I know.

I hate the term “fake news.” It’s either news or it’s a lie . . . However, I’m not going to continue down that rabbit hole.

I am just explaining that there is a certain power that journalists hold, and they have to be responsible with it or they could lose that power. We have a responsibility to our readers to be accurate and objective.

Readers have power and responsibilities as well. You have the power to voice your opinion on an article and give feedback. Speak up, but do not be surprised by the reaction you may provoke.

I don’t have the power to make someone do right or wrong. I’m not responsible for their actions.

I have the power to tell the story – good or bad – and it’s my responsibility to do it the right way. I’m also not responsible for the way the world reacts to it.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now, but before I do, I want to say rest in peace to Granite Publications owner Jim Chionsini. He was very encouraging, supportive and knowledgeable. He will be missed.

“Just because you can beat him up, doesn’t give you the right to. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.”

- Ben Parker, Spiderman

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