I am honored to feature today’s #MediaMonday, Dennis Wagner, an investigative reporter at The Arizona Republic and correspondent for USA Today. After working with Dennis for the last few years, I finally had the honor of meeting him in person.
Dennis has been with The Arizona Republic for the last 32 years and was the recipient of the 2014 Polk Award, one of the most prestigious awards in journalism, for his work exposing the national story on issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Dennis, along with some of his esteemed colleagues at The Arizona Republic, also won a few other awards specific to the VA stories which included the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award and the Arizona Press Club’s Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting.
Dennis, originally from Santa Barbara, Calif. has lived in Arizona since 1983. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 with a degree in journalism.
In his free time, Dennis enjoys fishing, being outdoors and his grandchild!
So, Dennis, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
I’m worried about America’s future because of the Internet and social media. They have drowned us with information, spawning complacency about truth and responsibility. A significant percentage of citizens no longer seek facts and reason; they pursue validation of beliefs and prejudices. That flaw is compounded by two, polar-opposite reactions: paralysis and trolling. Most of us, overwhelmed by so many issues, feel helpless and unable to focus on making a difference. And those with the most vehement views, frequently unfounded, spew propaganda and disrespect.
Newspapers may be dying. But I still believe credible media offer a ray of hope. I’m talking about professional journalists dedicated to fair, accurate, balanced and courageous reporting. Somehow, we have to convince ourselves there is a personal obligation to seek facts by using legitimate sources, and then to use truth, logic and values as our guides to action. People say journalists are cynics, but most of us are idealists armed with a double-edged sword of skepticism and hope. I write news articles because I believe an informed democracy will not forfeit civil rights, will not elect corrupt leaders, will not become apathetic about knowing what’s right, and doing it.