By Scott Leadingham | April 22nd, 2010
Today, on Earth Day, we’re all thinking about the planet, apparently, whether how to be more “green,” how to antagonize those who preach being more “green,” or how to cover one of the two. But at SPJ, we’re always thinking about the journalism industry and the journalists who drive it.
That got me wondering: When is Journalism Day? We need one.
Stay with me.
I’ve got a habit of walking around the neighborhood during lunch. Nothing fancy, and certainly no power walking or sweat suits. And only a sweatband in truly dire circumstances. Normally I try to pick up stray litter and pieces of garbage that won’t cause bodily harm, at least in the short run. But today, Earth Day, I took a little more time and expended a little more energy – call it the product of National Parks-loving parents and being an Eagle Scout. (It’s true … on my honor.) Normally I wouldn’t pick up empty beer bottles, especially in the middle of an overgrown lawn.
‘But hey,’ I thought, ‘it’s Earth Day. I earned that Environmental Science merit badge for a reason!’
What would prompt the public to have a similar thought for journalism? When people walk past a news stand or go online, what would make them say, “I need to read the news today because I recognize the importance of a free and independent press and the news journalists report.”?
Who’s planning that event? What do we have to do to get that message across? Where’s the trending topic on Twitter for Journalism Day? Why aren’t there rallies supporting the fourth estate? When is journalism’s day?
I’d like to think it’s every day. But I also like to think people don’t toss empty beer bottles in yards for strangers to pick up.
No one is planning the event FOR the industry. Journalists have to do it themselves, every day, through their honest, fair, accurate reporting.
And SPJ is there to help. If we’re out of the office, don’t worry. We’re just on a quick stroll. We’ll be right back.
Scott Leadingham is editor of SPJ’s Quill magazine. He didn’t earn the Journalism merit badge. Twitter: @scottleadingham