Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pledge of Allegiance

Friday afternoon, while I was working the phones at the Globe, a colleague of mine dug out a packet of business cards and handed one to me with a chuckle. These aren't given out anymore, he told me, but folks used to be instructed to carry one at all times...just in case.

It reads:
Your Honor, I am a reporter for The Boston Globe. On behalf of the public and The Boston Globe, I respectfully object to the closing of this proceeding and request a hearing at which legal counsel may present arguments to the court on the issue of closing this courtroom. I also request an adjournment so I can arrange for counsel to attend the hearing. Thank you.

The card, on its inverse, has numbers for several lawyers retained by the Globe (presumably the Times - all the numbers are New York-based).

I found it an interesting little specimen. Part of me wants to make a snide remark about there obviously being enough use of these cards to justify printing a batch. But part of me rather wishes there was still enough purpose to them to justify handing them out.

There was a time, I'm told in my history of journalism classes, when reporters were respected, rather than despised. There was a time that dropping the name "Boston Globe" would startle many and frighten some. There was a time where reading the text on that card might actually have gotten the desired results.

I doubt any of those are as true today as I'd like, as I enter the industry. A court faced with that card's statement will not change its decision. The last presidential administration so poisoned the judicial pool that most judges won't care. The First Amendment and the respect given to those who protect it has been so eroded that the cards given to reporters, just in case, lie forgotten in a drawer underneath the switchboard.

Damn shame.

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