John Cannon

The late W. David Brown, the long-time journalism instructor at Morehead State University, is the teacher who had the greatest influence in my life. He came to MSU about the time I was a freshman intent on earning a degree to teach history.

Becoming a newspaper reporter was not in my plans until I unexpectedly won an award for "Outstanding High School Journalism" from the Columbus Dispatch as a senior in high school. My high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Pigford, nominated me for that award because I was her best student.

At that time, Morehead State did not offer a major in journalism. In fact, it did not offer any journalism classes until Mr. Brown arrived on campus. Because of winning the award in high school, I enrolled in Journalism 101 under Brown as a freshman. Like Mrs. Pigford, Brown, a long-time editor of a newsaper in the South that won a Pulitzer Prize for its strong stands for desegregation and Civil Rights, recognized my potential and helped turn this naive farm boy — whose goal was to teach history and maybe help Dad on the farm — into somene who spent my entire adult life writing for newspapers.

I mention all this because of one piece of advice David Brown gave me as I accepted my first full-time job as a cub reporter in Bowling Green, Ky.: "Be careful not to become a cynic."

Brown said he worked with many talented journalists who became so disillusioned by the shortcomings of politicians and elected public bodies that they became so cynical that they lost faith in our government and its leaders.

I have taken Mr. Brown's advice and have always tried to be positive about our elected governments on the local, state and national levels, and I still believe that there are many people in our governements who are there for the right reasons.

However, now that I am in what may be my final decade on this planet, I am finding it difficult to heed Mr. Brown's advice. I am becoming more and more cyncial each day.

I don't think democracy works well when we as voters vote "against" someone instead of "for" someone. Yet in today's politcal campaigns, we learn a lot more about how "bad" some candidates are than how "good" the other candidates are. The negative ads that dominate today are causing people to lose faith in government and not even vote. Why vote when we are told how bad all the candidates are?

Kentucky will be electing a governnor this fall, and I can tell you I am not happy with either of the candidates. The same is true with those who are running for President. I did not vote for Donald Trump because I hated the reality shows he used to be on where he took great delight in humiliating people. I agree with some of the things he has done, but his style and personality anger me. I am hoping that somewhere among the slew of Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, someone will emerge who I truly believe in. So far, that has not happened.

Intense partisan politics in Washington have rendered Congress dysfuntional. It can't even pass a budget, much less do something positive to help solve problems.

W. David Brown s no longer with us but I know he would be disappointed about how cynical I have become in my old age. I'm disappointed, too, but I can't seem to help it.


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