1. Opinion

Hooper: Speaker needs to realize journalism makes America great

Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Aug. 12, 2019

Florida Speaker of the House Jose Oliva released a statement in response to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, but in an attempt to express confidence in America, he exposed his need for media literacy.

"… despite what we see on the news, America is a great place, filled with kind people, always willing to help a neighbor in need."

I'm not even sure how such a diatribe about journalism found its way into a note about the shootings, but the news industry I work in often shines a light on kind people willing to help a neighbor. The stories I read in this paper and on our website often highlight America's best.

America has a mass shooting crisis, and Oliva needs to understand that chronicling such carnage and the reasons behind it have to go beyond civic boosterism. Throughout our history, a free and vibrant press has helped make America a great place by shining a light on injustice and wrongdoing.

Journalism is and always has been an imperfect endeavor. But every day, under circumstances that have grown more challenging, we're pushing to serve our readers.

When the news — whether it's stories from the Tampa Bay Times or local and national TV stations — focuses on negative aspects, it's not to cast the nation in a negative light, but to push those injustices into the light so they can be corrected.

That responsibility often falls to elected officials like Oliva, so it's important for him to really reflect an understanding of the work journalists do.

Hopefully, he will take steps to implement media literacy initiatives in our schools. It's never been more important for all citizens to understand the critical role journalism plays in our society.

That's all I'm saying.