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Journalism is the key to protecting democracy

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Much of the world today is awash with huge waves of positive and negative information about many troubling situations, and attempting to discern fact from fiction can be at times stressful and disturbing.

Meanwhile the free press toils 24/7 in seeking truth because democracy will survive only with the right to speak.

Even with highly skilled journalists operating throughout the world, using modern communication technology to keep people informed, their task remains daunting and often reporters themselves become targets of those who see them as spoilers for revealing what they would prefer kept hidden.

Journalism will always be an issue because no government is perfect, and accountability is essential if the principles of democracy are to be protected in serving the people.

No country operating as a democracy has not been involved at some point in alleged corruption, and that includes Bermuda. Journalists must ask questions whenever there is a situation where it is unclear what the facts are and they should never be condemned as troublemakers in the process.

Globally in the political arena, it is common to attack the messenger to protect and preserve a particular image. Nothing new here, and most good journalists expect a rough ride in keeping truth out front — the good, the bad and the ugly.

These are testing times for all journalists, whether they operate in large or small arenas of public life. In America, described as the most powerful country on the planet, the free press is heavily engaged in trying to tell the truth about a pandemic, Covid-19, which continues to ravage much of the nation, with deaths and infections on a huge scale despite the current administration insisting the situation is improving.

Journalists are caught between information from the Trump Administration, which is in conflict with what medical experts and scientists are saying about steps needed to bring this deadly disease under control.

Reporters are duty-bound to relay the grim prediction from these experts that without adequate measures, such as mandatory wearing of face masks and avoiding crowds, by December the death toll will be at shocking levels. They emphasise that many lives could be saved if positive action is taken now with face masks and social-distancing.

With a presidential election fast approaching in November, and criticism mounting throughout the nation over the administration's response to the pandemic, the free press must remain focused on getting facts to better Inform the public.

Apart from the pandemic, which has disrupted most of American daily life, journalists are committed to question the administration on what is seen by many as steps to make voting by mail as difficult as possible. Yet, voting by mail would seem a safer way to cast a ballot with the pandemic still far from being controlled.

Many observers have described action taken by the White House to weaken the postal service as unprecedented and contrary to democratic principles. There have even been calls for the head of the postal service, described as a strong supporter of the Trump Administration to be fired. Again, journalists must keep their ears to the ground in gathering as much information as possible to be fair in their reporting.

Polls continue to show that the team of Joe Biden, a former vice-president, and his groundbreaking running mate, Kamala Harris, the first black woman to be selected on the ticket of a major political party, continues to gain momentum.

America must decide through the ballot box who is best suited to move the nation forward. Its history of racial division will be a significant factor of concern. If the nation had the courage to elect a black president in Barack Obama, one would assume they had overcome, in the area of racial divisiveness. It proves nothing should be taken for granted.

It is also important not to lose sight of the many brave journalists in other regions who often work out of the spotlight at great risk to seek truth. Without their efforts, much of the world would be kept in the dark about injustice and the nightmare of people suffering from sunrise to sunset.

Dictatorial regimes have little or no room for the free press. That is why good journalism is so essential in protecting democracy where all people should have a voice. Authorities being held accountable is one of the key elements in democracy.

At no time should democracy be taken for granted. We have heard the old saying, you never miss the water until the well runs dry. Here in Bermuda, we must never forget that truth will always matter if we value the principles of democracy.

President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Yuma International Airport on Tuesday in Yuma, Arizona (Photograph by Matt York/AP)

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Published August 19, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated August 19, 2020 at 1:57 pm)

Journalism is the key to protecting democracy

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