About that time I saved triplets from an inferno

MDJB logo04I was on my way to a bootlegger to buy my weekly load of hooch, when I saw a church on fire on the side of the road …

Actually, never mind. I was going to riff on Brian Williams and the stories he made up, but what he did cuts a little too close to home for me as a journalist.

Plenty of people already believe journalists make stories up to please themselves, and now we have a formerly trusted newsman, the face of one of the Big Three networks, outed for telling lies.

There’s not much to be done for it, and if I were being cynical, I’d say the damage is negligible because the public didn’t have much trust in the media before this episode.

We all can get self-important in this business, which probably doesn’t help, and the abuses of some of our more high-profile members make me cringe, too.

But I came up in weekly and small daily newspapers, and the vast majority of people I’ve met in this business have wanted to get it right. I wish I could say that was true for all of them, but I can’t.

I’d only ask you to consider your occupation and the people you’ve worked with over the years. Most of them are probably among the best people to walk the Earth – or, barring that, they’re decent folk. But I’m guessing everybody’s had a few that they wished would’ve just gone away somewhere, anywhere.

These are strange days for the news business, with plenty of changes and more to come. I’m not afraid for the future of news because I think it’s a valuable tool to help people understand the world around them – and I’d say that especially goes for local news.

A lot more people care about what happens at City Hall than want to sit through an actual city council meeting. Births, marriages and deaths matter, as do crime sprees. I also think the features I write bring one part of Northeast Mississippi in touch with other parts, which helps maintain and maybe even expand the idea of community.

This stuff has value, and I think it always will.

The future of the news business looks bright, but the transition from here to there is filled with potential pitfalls.

And Williams isn’t helping.

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