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A Time To Speak



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"To everything, there is a season..." is a phrase familiar to any child of the 60s who heard songwriter Pete Seeger's words soar to the top ten with The Byrds' recording of "Turn, Turn, Turn." This song, nearly word for word the biblical verse Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, was a musical plea for peace - "A time for love, a time for hate. A time for peace..." and Seeger's own prayerlike final words, "I swear it's not too late..."The Newtown Bee is as committed to providing the local news of importance and interest to our readers as is any national news outlet to its vast readership. It is not always reporting that is equally appreciated; it is irritating at times, it is even provocative in the eyes of a few. There are times when silence is not what is demanded. Nonetheless, news needs to be conveyed for the good of all, and the time to speak is when facts present themselves.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 also notes there is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak."

Listening is a skill at which professional journalists excel. What is said is what is reported, and in honorably carrying the words of others to the public, hearing what others say is vital. That is why you are apt to find reporters not only frantically taking longhand notes, but also recording conversations and meetings to verify that what they thought was said were the actual words.

Sometimes, what journalists hear and report on is not what everyone wants to read. It does not suit his or her belief system, or it seems incredible. There is no shame in calling out genuine errors so that accurate information can be conveyed. Journalists are human, after all, and perfection is only the realm of the gods.

To say that the media should be "embarrassed and humiliated" for reporting the news, as Senior White House Advisor Stephen K. Bannon recently suggested, and "keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while" is advice that must go two ways. A solid relationship with the press is crucial to a democratic nation, and in any instance where information is provided and made public.

How loudly we speak, how frequently we speak, and when we speak all comes out of putting to practice the skill of listening. The Bee is not unique in this; it is how genuine news outlets operate.

Mouth shut, ears open is advice for any human being and certainly not one to be applied solely to a profession dedicated to delivering the news. Professional respect on any two sides can ensure that what needs to be said is heard by all who need to hear it. Clarity on the part of the speaker and attention on the part of the listener makes for a medium in which people have trust.

"To everything there is a season..." The media will continue to speak in its season. Listen closely. I swear it's not too late.

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