I Believe in the 4th Estate and John Patrick Carney

Posted on October 16, 2010

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My beginning news writing class was treated last week to a visit from State Rep. John Patrick Carney from Ohio’s 22nd House District, who shared with them his thoughts on politics and the media, and how much they need each other to be responsible and accountable.

I will admit to inviting Carney with bias. I believed in him and his political future enough to have volunteered on two of his campaigns, and I support him as strongly as I could any candidate in his re-election bid this year. I wish there were more like him willing to go into public service. I also wish there were more people like him willing to come tell a class filled with the future what they can do to be better at their jobs, to be better people, and to contribute more to the world they inhabit.

Politics, Carney told them, is dirty business.  I have no doubt his is the voice of experience. Don’t look to me to dispute him–I have seen my share of the bad and the ugly in politics, and not as much of the good as I would hope. But I still believe in the process, and so does John Patrick Carney. And as long as he keeps believing, I will keep believing in him.

I also believe in the Fourth Estate and its need to check and balance the three points of our governmental triangle. And for that to continue, we need people like my students to be believers. It’s people like John Carney who can make that happen–and fill them with the desire to engage in and be part of the process of politics. I hope they remember the passion in his voice, the dedication of his actions and the strength of his convictions–and emulate that sooner rather than later.

Some will. Others won’t.

President Barack Obama is coming to Ohio State Sunday for a speech on the Oval–I saw them setting up the bleachers and risers today. Some students I talked to said they  did not plan to attend this historic moment and plan to be as far away from the annoyance of traffic and crowds as possible–a president will literally be in their back yard, but they have no interest, or it is too much work to attend.

But you know what? Others will be there contributing coverage to our school paper, The Lantern, practicing their new journalistic skills, jumping feet first into the political waters. I applaud them. In fact, they make me tear up with pride.

This quarter one student emailed me and said that before our class, she never read the paper and could not care less about politics. But the more she has been “forced” to read it, the less work it has become. Now she scours the paper with passion and a desire not just to experience news, but to consume it, to analyze it, to maybe someday be part of it.

I believe in her and those like her most of all.

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Posted in: Journalism