Archive | February, 2012

Loyalty and Journalism

28 Feb

“Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens”

As cheesy, or cliche as it may sound, I truly believe that journalism is the foundation of democracy. I believe that most of us entering the field of journalism are doing so because we believe in this ideal. We believe in the freedom of the press, and everything the first amendment implies. We believe that a free press is the core of a self-governing society, and that without it, democracy would fail. This is the journalistic ideal–to preserve democracy by serving the public interest through solid news reporting.

Ideals are interesting concepts, however, and the very word makes them seem out of reach and unattainable. I think journalists can serve the public. I think that despite the pressures from corporations, personal values, or political bias, that journalists are capable of being objective observers of history because we all believe in the same ideal. However, reaching for this ideal often requires a large amount of integrity and courage.

I found an article on digitaljournalist.org that specifically addresses what we talked about in class regarding patriotism. A journalist has many loyalties, such as loyalty to family or employers, but there is also loyalty to country. This is a tricky place for journalists, and has been since the beginning of the press in America. The article mentions Kevin Site who reported of a soldier shooting an unarmed Iraqi in a mosque. His story most definitely did not strike pride in the hearts of the American public, and he received hate mail for covering the story, but some recognized his courage and praised him for it.

Is Kevin Sites unpatriotic for showing the military in a bad light, or did he show his patriotism by displaying journalistic integrity? I would personally suggest the latter. I have strong feelings about the military. My family has a rich history of military service, and I am very proud of that. I support the troops completely, but I cannot support one soldier’s reckless and insensitive actions. War is cruel, but that doesn’t mean our soldiers need to be. By exposing these individuals, we remind our soldiers the standard the American public holds them to, and in doing so, stay loyal to the citizens. What’s the use of a free press if we don’t use it to expose corruption? Continue reading

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Truth and Journalism

25 Feb

“Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.”

As an aspiring journalist, the word truth evokes a pretty strong emotional response in my mind. For me, it’s hard to separate journalism from truth, because I think without truth, journalism is nothing. There are some people who would be perfectly content to print untrue things as long as it helped the ratings and made them an extra buck–tabloids do it all the time and almost always get away with it, but I think journalism is, and should be, held to a higher standard. Simply passing on rumors is not journalism.

Journalism is a different breed of media. When tabloids publish something untrue, and it’s confirmed as such, people just
shrug their shoulders and think….”well, it is just a tabloid.” But when a journalist does the same thing, their entire career can put in jeopardy. One example that immediately comes to mind is what has come to be known as “Rathergate”. To make a long story short, in 2004, Dan Rather did a news segment on  George W. Bush, based on documents that claimed he had gotten out of military service in Vietnam because of his family’s connection in the government. Withing hours, the legitimacy of the documents were put into question on the blogosphere, and Rather ended up having to retract the story, make a public apology and was, in essence, pushed out of CBS because his credibility had been compromised.

Since the Rathergate incident, CBS has tried to cover their tracks stating that the information in the documents were correct even if the actual papers were forged. The problem is, the newscast presented it as fact even after their documents were questioned. They did a poor job addressing the questions that faced their story–choosing to safe face rather than admit they may have received misinformation.

Here’s an article that’s example of them trying to save face–an article that frankly makes me sad for CBS. They refuse to admit they may have been wrong.  Continue reading