A journalist’s oath
I’ve been a student reporter for five years now, yet as I read through Neil Henry’s “American Carnival: Journalism under siege in the age of new media” a humbling realization dawned upon me.
For someone who has passionately dedicated herself to bringing the truth before the student body at UTD, I have been surprisingly shallow when it comes to questioning the major media conglomerates on the tons of fodder they’ve been feeding the public, including me.
Sure, I’m a cynic when it comes to celebrity news and debates on dress colors. But, when it comes down to examining a news outlet’s ethics, their business interests and their content, I am as susceptible as the rest of my peers who don’t, in fact, practice journalism.
I have never, for instance, wondered who generates all these news stories that air on CNN or MSNBC. I have never bothered to wonder their choice of story selection.
I have never, in fact, questioned whether journalists at The New York Times or The Washington Post fabricate quotes or use public relations content. I have, like a typical consumer, simply chosen to believe what they put before me.
As I read through the pages in Henry’s book, I was shocked, and I’ll admit, more than a little disillusioned with the profession of journalism itself as it stands today.
But more importantly, I questioned myself as I read about broadcast media pushing out President George Bush’s Medicare advertisement as a news story, how many times have I as a reporter, written a story about a school, a show or a policy for The Mercury just to keep some bridges intact?
How many times, as an editor, have I read a piece that was blatant public relations feed and let it pass hoping to placate a department that we’ll need in the future for a story?
In doing so, how many times have I let a story run with surface-level investigation when the real story, perhaps even a dirty truth, lay buried underneath? How many times have I failed you as a reader?
At this point, I can only second guess myself. Perhaps I did my due diligence, and I know if I didn’t it wasn’t with the intention of deceit but due to ignorance.
Yet, as I move forward, I promise hereby that I shall try my best to bring to you stories that explore deeper truths, that my commitment shall be to you and to you alone, not to the advertisers, interest groups or departments, and that my personal feelings shall not come in the way of your right to know the truth.