Oxford Stories: Mississippi Attorney General Discusses Importance of Journalism in a Free Society

In a private interview this week with Meek School of Journalism and New Media students who are members of the University of Mississippi Capitol Press Corps, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood discussed the importance of media and journalism in a free society.

“With this administration and all these ‘fake news’ claims, I’ve never seen that in my lifetime where that happened,” Hood said. “We went through the Great Recession, and it really had a negative impact on media.”

During the Great Recession, roughly 8.7 million jobs were lost stifling the United States economy. Many media companies have had to redefine how they produce news to stay in business.

“It is really fun to watch how the media is impacting, and how they are having to argue what the truth is,” Hood said.

The phrase “fake news” has been around since the end of the 19th century. It appears in newspapers in 1890 and 1891. However, the phrase received much clout after its use by President Donald Trump, and as a result, the truth is often questioned.

“I never thought I’d see it,” said Hood. “Years ago, when I was in Turkey… some of the media people were in jail simply for telling the truth.”

In October, the president Tweeted that the “network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, (when) appropriate, revoked.”

Despite a conspiracy of discrediting truth, Attorney General Hood still believes the profession of journalism should be respected.

“I am encouraged by the chosen profession,” said Hood. “And I think it’s an exciting time to see something. I’m 55, and never thought I’d see what we are seeing in my lifetime.”

By Terrence Johnson

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