Watch dogs and the art of war

By Jami Jones, managing editor

The core principle of good journalism is watchdogging our leaders. Its role in serving the people is so important that the press began being called The Fourth Estate in the late 1700s.

Without giving a history lesson, the term was coined when the House of Commons of Great Britain, which had three estates or divisions, opened up to reporters. One of the politicians was credited as saying: "… in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all."

Our government must be watched, their motivations and actions questioned. It's all about accountability to the governed.

Too much of the media has gotten away from that. They are busy grabbing "if it bleeds, it leads" headlines for shock value.

That's not the case around here.

Land Line turned 40 this year. For those 40 years its mission has been to support the OOIDA core mission of fighting for the rights of all truck drivers.

When I came to Land Line 11 years ago, it was a journalism dream come true. Working for the outfit that wasn't afraid to call 'em like they see 'em. Holding lawmakers and regulators accountable for the boneheaded, disconnected laws and regs they try to govern trucking with.

But the watchdogging we do is just a piece of the arsenal. The fight is truly fought by the Association and professional truck drivers who use the information we ferret out to take it a step further.

You all are the ones who make the big difference. You communicate with those governing bodies and educate them on the realities of trucking. You let them know when they are stepping in it, and you let them know when they've just hit one out of the park.

The tide is certainly turning. It's not the same old battle. I look at trucking-related bills, and I see language in there heavily influenced by your calls and letters. I see regulations get tweaked and changed to accommodate the immense diversity of this industry.

We've always said that changing the minds of lawmakers is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Or, in better and more appropriate terms, we were going to come out beat-up in a few battles before the tide of the war turned and we started coming out with some wins.

It's with a lot of pride that we celebrate our 40th year of watchdogging the hell out of our governing bodies and providing you with all the ammo you need to keep fighting for your rights as professional truckers. LL