Monday, June 20, 2016

Press Responsibility: Interview Representative People on Both Sides

Not everybody loves Wayne LaPierre.
I have been reading complaints in the last couple of days from people who believe national news organizations should consciously and intentionally avoid interviews with people like NRA president Wayne LaPierre (who, by the way, is from Roanoke).

I detest everything LaPierre stands for, but I don't agree with censoring coverage of him. Respectable news outlets (a few remain) have a responsibility to tell the legitimate sides of a story and LaPierre has several million American followers. However, he is not representative of the bulk of gun owners.

The NRA membership among gun owners is 5-7 percent, so it would seem to me that somebody other than the NRA would need to be consulted as representative of the overwhelming majority of owners, whose opinions are most often ignored. The NRA has a lot of money and has made itself a spokesman for what it considers to be the "prevailing opinion" among gun owners. Money again.

It is up to legit news outlets to question who the NRA represents and to seek out other opinions. The NRA represents the extreme conservative opinion, just as I would represent the extreme liberal position (ban all guns everywhere and melt the damn things). I would not expect CBS to talk to me and I think it could easily find an organization that makes sense--most gun owners share the opinion that we don't need AR15s, for example, and that background checks are just fine--to represent gun owners. 

A lazy reporter and editor, though, will take the easy way out. That is not good for the reporter, the reader or our country. And the editor needs to do his damn job.

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