Skepticism and Hope Between the Pages

Ben - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on May 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: hope, question

I believe in skepticism and cynicism. For without them, there cannot be faith or hope.

Hope is a word that has been thrown around a lot lately. It is the buzzword of a highly-popular leading candidate for president. And millions have adopted it as their personal mantra.

But blind hope, just like blind faith, is nothing more than clinging to a falsehood, a fantasy. Hope and faith have to grounded in the truth and the possibilities that come with truth.

That is why I am a journalist, and it is that constant struggle for the truth that leads my colleagues and I down the path of skepticism and, sometimes, cynicism.

Many a time, I have discounted what a politician or a public official has said because it is my job to question everything — every intention, every word, whether thought out or not, every act, every piece of paper generated by a bureaucracy.

But sometimes I wonder if what I am doing is right and if the public official was being upfront with me and not advocating an agenda. What if they were being honest to me?

Is it always right and good and noble to question everything? Even Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Usually, I can tell the difference when someone is feeding me lies and when they are being truthful. And the smart public official knows how to work with the press.

The press has held a hallowed place in American society for a long time. After all, two young, upstart reporters named Woodward and Bernstein took down a crooked president.

But now, the skepticism and cynicism that The Fourth Estate has been so famous — and infamous for — has been turned back on itself and we, as the national working media, are taking a long look at ourselves.

Through budget cuts and newsroom purges, the reporting power of the nation’s newspapers has been cut back drastically. And by chasing Internet fads like ‘citizen reporting’, competing with 24-hour news operations, and asking reporters to do more with less — the American newspaper, in its current form, is dying.

We are withering underneath the criticism of our readers and many newspapers don’t have a plan for what to do next. We have lost our way, lost our purpose for existing.

And while I see the print media struggling around me — both inside my own newsroom and at other newspapers — I still love my job, because I cling to a hope that one story, one idea, one person, can bring about sweeping change.

There is plenty to be cynical and skeptical about. But if we aren’t, there can be no change, no faith, no hope.