Our 2016 presidential election was punctuated by the release of information that was illegally obtained via computer hacking (i.e., computer leaks), and the propagation of false stories camouflaged to appear as legitimate news (i.e., fake news). While there may be debate as to the extent the leaks and fake news affected how voters reasoned to their voting decisions, there is no debate that leaks and fake news did occur.
This is only going to get worse. Imagine an evil-doer hacking computer records to obtain a copy of a candidate’s credit card history. Then imagine them altering those records such that 97% is factually accurate, but sprinkled in the mix are fictitious transactions that cause the candidate’s character and/or competence to come into serious question. Now imagine the candidate’s altered credit card history is “leaked” to the public. Finally, imagine the repercussions of such data in the social media powered hands of the candidate’s opponents, hacks disguised as journalists (i.e., alternative journalists) and hiding behind the First Amendment, and an increasingly gullible public.
This is why we need certified journalists. I know that there is a certification program for journalism’s scholastic teachers and advisors, but I don’t believe there is one for rank and file journalists—the journalism foot soldiers. And by “certified” I mean that the aspiring journalist would have to go through a board certification process, like doctors and lawyers do, to become a certified journalist.
We desperately need such a certification program now more than ever because we need such certifiably trustworthy professionals to help us separate fact from fiction in as objective a way as is humanly possible. Our republic desperately needs journalism to play the role that our founders envisioned, and for which they provided the protections for that role to play.
In that spirit, I close with a video clip that perfectly expresses my attitude towards what I am calling “alternative journalists.” The clip comes from Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” episode, “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” That episode opened with Allison Janney, channeling her West Wing character, Press Secretary C.J. Craig, conducting a press briefing with an assortment of “alternative journalists.”
For my purposes here, it does not matter what you think of Samantha Bee, or what you think of her show, “Full Frontal,” because that’s not the point. The point I’m using this clip to make is found in C.J.’s closing rant. The clip is 3:30 long and is written in “Full Frontal” style, complete with vulgarities and pulling no punches; so be forewarned, but be intellectually mature enough to look beyond that stuff. C.J.’s closing rant starts at about the 2:05 mark, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Here’s your link: Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Pt. 0: Cold Open