As journalists, we are often reminded of the power of our pen. Perhaps that phrase should be updated to include the power of the keyboard. No doubt, the right words at the right time have a way of motivating us.
The power of the pen is not, however, reserved for journalists. The power of the pen is available to everyone. One of the greatest gifts of a free society is the right to free speech. Freedom of speech provides a wonderful opportunity to express ideas and thoughts on an endless list of issues and ideals.
What responsibility accompanies free speech? What standards should apply? For example, is it permissible to knowingly publish a lie? Is truth relative? What is to prevent us from publishing lewd and offensive material? What makes something lewd and offensive?
As a Christian publication, our standards go far beyond our freedom of speech and our professional code of ethics. It is our duty as Christian journalists to seek truth and provide fair and comprehensive accounts of events. However, integrity, ethical behavior and higher standards are not always put into practice by our secular counterparts.
While it is not our practice to draw attention to the methods and means of our fellow publishers, recent letters from our readers have prompted us to call on our readers to express their concern with the content they are being exposed to through many of our state’s secular publications.
In particular we are referring to the quality and type of advertising that readers of all ages are being exposed to. Exposed is the operative word. A scan through the sports section of any of our state’s larger publications could have readers wondering if they picked up a pornographic magazine rather than a state newspaper often read by young and old alike.
Alternative newspapers throughout the state are the greatest offenders. The publications are packed with advertisements of women in suggestive poses and clothing making distasteful propositions.
Do these publications have a right to print trash? Does freedom of speech allow them to push the envelope of decency? The answer is certainly yes. But we also have the right to pick up our pens and fire up our keyboard and let them know what we think about it.
Advertisers wouldn’t be allowed to run the advertisements if enough readers would make the publications aware of their disgust. Newspapers survive based on one thing and one thing alone, advertiser revenue! Advertisers run ads based on the number of readers associated with a publication, which takes us back to the power of the pen. When you quit writing a check to renew your subscription and when you stop buying products from advertisers who sell trash, the advertisements will stop and our publications will be decent once again.
So what are you going to do about it? Are you just going to sit there and let the decline continue, or will you use the power of the pen to make a difference?