When I first started out as a freelance journalism I worked with some editors that made me cuss like a drunken sailor. I hated them. They didn’t see my “vision” and were stifling my “creative muse.” Basically, they didn’t get it.

One editor was so old school, he did his rough drafts on a manual typewriter that looked like it was straight out of the 30s. When I went to his office, I could hear him banging away at the keys so hard I was sure he was going to break his fingers. There was something to that sound, though. You could always count on it when you entered the office. The world might end and zombies might rise up but that old keyboard would be clacking away.

He didn’t take any shit and he had an old red pencil (or maybe several of them) always near to hand. I’d give him a piece and that pencil would come out right away. When he was done with it, the paper looked like it lost a fight with Freddy Kreuger. If I was near tears, he’d look at me and say, “well? Good journalism doesn’t come easy. Get to it.”

Another editor was a soft-spoken woman who reminded me of a velvet covered steel bar. She was polite and calm but she had this line in the sand that was as firm as the Wall of China. She demanded that I provide her with all my research and she or her assistant scrupulously checked every single fact. If anything was off, the piece had to be redone. I never knew where she found the time but I often pulled my hair out over some fact I’d glossed over that she refused to allow.

Yet another editor was a former military man. He had the bearing of MacArthur and the voice of Pavarotti. An odd combination but it worked for him. He would sit me down and go over the piece word by word if necessary to help me to understand how to make it better. He’d allow me some room for my “voice” but, in the end, journalism was a harsh taskmistress and he wanted me to know her inside and out.

Today, blogging has replaced the old school journalism. The Huffington Post has all but replaced the traditional newspapers. In our desire to have our news RIGHT NOW, the old school media is falling by the wayside. Even traditional newspapers are turning to blogging as a means to keep afloat. After all, why wait a full day for a newspaper to be printed when we can find out about things now. After all, there’s a lion killing dentist that needs a lesson and mob mentality demands it be done RIGHT NOW! And your opinion on breastfeeding or the latest shooting is absolutely required.

Blogging has its place in the world. It gives us perspective on events in the world. Right wing, left wing, religious, scientific, you name it. Everyone has a blog and an opinion. It’s important to hear these opinions not because we agree or disagree with them but because this is how we open a dialogue with each other. Only when we talk to each other do we begin to understand and with understanding comes peace. However, there is a danger with blogging that most people don’t think about.

No editors.

Love em or hate em, editors fulfill a vital role in media. They are the crap filters. Whether it’s bogus facts or just a shitty piece, they’re the ones who filter all that out. Without them, we’re swimming in crap and don’t know the good stuff from the bad. It’s a recipe for disaster. As a writer, there is an obligation you have to the reader. Don’t sell a 5 cent hat as a one of a kind thousand dollar item.

Readers take your words at face value. If you say A is true, they will believe it and get on that bandwagon. If you say that a lion killing dentist is an irredeemable human being who deserves to die, they will believe you. If you shout out about terrorism, feminism, bullying, whatever, they will believe you and get behind you.

Not all writers have scruples. Some writers just want readers at any cost and don’t care who they hurt to get there. Not all blogs or online magazines are like this and that’s just trouble. How do you sift the shit from clear water when it all looks the same at first glance? How do you know you’re getting facts and not just a pile of snake oil?

You don’t.

We need to bring back editors and start demanding a better quality of news online. Not just a rampant hodge podge of whatever looks good. We need to sift the sand from the diamonds or online news has got to take responsibility for the mob mentality that it builds.

(Side note: I’m not supporting said lion-killing dentist. This is an example only.)

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