Early on in my career I had a town council member, who literally had known me all my life, complain with a good deal of undisguised displeasure that I was just “too picky” in how I went about covering local government in our hometown.

What, in his opinion, I had been overly finicky about was calling the local council, which was made up of three basically good men (even perhaps in their own ways well-meaning), on a quite obvious and ongoing violation of the state's Open Door Law.

Admittedly, the law was still in its short pants, and I'm not altogether sure whether, up until that moment, any of them had actually ever read the law; if they had, what they'd read didn't take.

To them, holding what were basically unannounced town council meetings in a back room of Town Hall in the middle of the day was just an efficient way to get town business done.

Public meetings, by contrast, were social occasions to be concluded as quickly and with as much bonhomie as was possible.

So my brashness in calling them out, first in person and then eventually in print, was as unwelcome as it was unanticipated — a betrayal, by a native son no less, of what had up until my arrival been a system which, at least on the surface, seemed to be working to everyone's benefit, especially if you were one of the couple of contractors who seemed to always be low-bidder on the latest expensive public-works project.

I own up to being “too picky” when it comes to demanding open government, because I see openness — the public's right to know — as the capstone of democratic government.

If unfailing devotion to the First Amendment (even when such piety gives me the willies) is my personal faith, then stubborn belief in the absolute necessity of open government is my professional creed — even when, as it sometimes does, make for an uncomfortable homecoming.

Today wraps up Sunshine Week, an annual celebration by journalists of our being defenders of the public's right to know — of open government. That's how I see it, anyway.

Others of the brethren have used the week to bemoan the current state of affairs with these attacks on journalists by politicians, led in large part by the president.

I wish it were otherwise.

Being a journalist means doing work that's not always appreciated, work of great importance that goes unnoticed, and sometimes even work that makes those in power quiver with anger — or in fear.

When that happens, there's a reaction, an effort to deflect the impact of being caught out.

An historian's training comforts me in knowing that what transpires today is only the latest round in a long accounting of attacks on “the media” — and it's hardly the worst period in the life-story of the nation. Not by a long shot.

What is new, or at least disconcerting to an old newspaper hound like me, is this feeling among some of my media colleagues of being persecuted for the work they do — a feeling they should be given special treatment for what they do.

I suppose there is in everyone some innate desire to be popular, to always be loved, and by everyone. But to be always loved is impossible, no matter what your work happens to be.

Not even Jesus could manage it.

Often in the newspaper business the work is downright unpleasant. When I talk with younger colleagues or with students looking at journalism as a career, that's usually at the top of the list — a warning to be prepared from time to time to undertake some unpleasant work.

I tell them that like the late Ben Bradlee, one day they may be lucky enough to get thrown down a flight of stairs; they, too, will become a legend and their career made.

I've never had that happen to me, by the way, and probably won't; I've put on a lot of weight since I started in the business, so any effort to try throwing me down the stairs now just wouldn't be worth it.

The work is not always bad. There's also great joy to be found in being in the newspaper business, in helping readers to learn about, to understand, and to care about the world around them, whether the boundaries run to just down the block or stretch halfway around the world.

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