Good journalism is one of the most sacred things in America. It is the thing that lets us all make informed decisions about what we believe, who we vote for, and what we care about. Good journalism shines light on fraud, unfairness and abuse. Good journalism shines light on bravery, hope and the American spirit. Neutral, fact base reporting is a friend of justice.
Unfortunately, most of the so-called journalism we see today is a far cry from good. We are flooded with partisan rhetoric, stories that don’t matter, or stories that are rushed and poorly done.
I found out yesterday that reporter/producer Sean Carroll is taking a promotion in Syracuse. Sean was a reporter that covered a lot of great stories, including the criminal justice stories in the greater Rochester area. I am sad he is leaving. I am sad because this is a guy who did it right. He took the time to learn about the criminal justice system. He took the time to insure accuracy. He took the time to talk to both sides. And he reported the facts. We didn’t always agree. He didn’t do favors. He was, however, always neutral and fair. To me that is what good reporting is.
I think most of the lawyers at the Hall of Justice would agree with my opinion about Sean. Lawyers are tough on reporters. We are trained to choose words carefully because every word in our business is important. Lawyers HATE getting misquoted. Lawyers HATE a reporter that doesn’t take the time to understand how the system works and says something idiotic on TV about their case that isn’t true. I think most lawyers answered Sean’s questions because he was educated on how the legal system worked and fairly reported what they said. Most of all he understood what the real issues were in a case and reported those issues to the community, which lawyers appreciate.
Sean has worked hard to promote the opening of courts here in New York to the public through the use of video cameras in the courtroom. Many states allow it. I am personally in favor of allowing the community to see what happens in courtrooms more easily because I think what happens there is important. I think that increased transparency would improve people’s faith in the justice system. Courts are open to the public and I think there is a way to allow people to see the proceedings without requiring that they sit in the Hall of Justice to do it.
So Sean, thanks for the hard work. Our community will miss you. And good luck getting some cases on TV.