The Media and Public Service

“The newspapers and the radio can serve the public best if they expose not only corruption in office, but day by day performance as well, These are two sides of the same coin, which is basically this: Public relations exist to inform the people of all the facts, the good as well as the bad.”
Sargent Shriver |Chicago, IL | March 9, 1957

In a 1957 speech he gave as the head of Chicago’s Board of Education, Sargent Shriver reminds us of the responsibility that our leaders have in keeping the public aware of their actions, and of the crucial role that the media play in keeping the public informed. Long before the Internet, 24-hour news, and cable TV, Sargent Shriver made the case that having functional, competent media outlets was the best mechanism for keeping our leaders accountable. “No one,” he said, “least of all public officials, should be afraid of fair and honest questions concerning public business.”

Sargent Shriver gravitated towards journalism from a young age. As a student, he was editor of the Yale Daily News, one of the oldest and most prestigious college newspapers in the United States. As a young man, he wrote articles for Time and worked as an assistant editor at Newsweek. When he left the private sector in the 1950s to work as a public servant, he continued to hold journalists in high regard. He demanded his peers in government be transparent with them. And he always expected quality work from all involved in reporting the news, taking journalists to task when their work was biased or skewed.

We would do well to demand these same things from our leaders and our media today.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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