Balance in journalism difficult to achieve, local lawyer says
By Heather Henderson, Staff Reporter
Journalism, whether in New York or Alabama, is a balancing act, a Daphne attorney who has had a taste
of both states approach to newsmaking said Friday.
It can be extremely hard to cover every slide of the issue with the depth you need to get into
sometimes, said Elizabeth Citrin, who decided to move to Baldwin Country from New York City with her
two daughters after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The best you can hope for is that everyone will give their viewpoint to someone in totality, you'll have a
balanced view, said Citrin, who has worked for CBS News and the New York City Law Department.
Speaking to the Mobile Bay Area Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Citrin said that
while working as a producer of a start-up court show she realized how easy it was to take real-life
people and real-life events and manipulate them. She said producers and cameras evoked egregious
emotions form the trial participants. It was scary how much power we had as producers, she said. I
began to see why there's so much distrust between the public and the press.
The image out there is that they're taking information that is private and manipulating it into
something that is public.
Sometimes, Citrin said, public officials and journalists disagree over what is private information and
what should be public. In one example, she referred to Mobile County commissioners who are refusing
to disclose their appointment books to the Mobile register, arguing that the books would compromise
the safety or privacy of some they have met with.
Citrin said in most cases, government officials should be as open as possible with their constituents,
citing the federal governments tight-lipped policies after 9/11 and a frequent practice by some entities
of making all their decisions before public meetings.
Citrin referenced a Bible passage in 2 Corinthians, where the apostle Paul warns Christians not to hide
their actions from public discretion. Here we are 2,000 years later, in the same debate, she said.
Also during the luncheon, the society recognized the winners of three journalism scholarships and
administered by the John Will Memorial Trust.
Alyson Sheppard, a 2004 Foley High School graduate, was awarding the $5,000 Hearin-Chandler
Foundation Scholarship. Sheppard served as managing editor of her school paper, Foley Hilites.
Sheppard plans to study journalism at Boston University in the fall, where she has a four-year, full-paid
Sara Miles St. Clair, a Loyola University junior and 2002 McGill-Toolen High School graduate, was
awarded the $3,000 John Will Scholarship. St. Clair is a broadcast journalism major who serves as a
guest writer for the Maroon, Loyolas student newspaper, and as an anchor for the university's closed-
circuit television station.
Gabriel Tynes, a University of South Alabama communications major and 1998 Fairhope High School
graduate, was awarded the $5,000 David Harby Trust Scholarship. Tynes, a senior, serves as editorial
page editor of the university's newspaper, the Vanguard.