With our instant access to internet, we have millions of resources at our disposal, yet it feels like we’re the
least informed generation. For our lack of knowledge, we resort to blaming biased media, or one of my personal favorite President Donald Trump coined phrases, the “fake news.”
People often say that journalism has lost its credibility and ironically uncovers anything but the truth; yet I refuse to believe the true essence of journalism is dead.
I believe the true essence of journalism is not dead but lost. It’s been lost for a while now, and it’s up to future journalists to bring it back and really ask themselves the question: Why are they doing what they are doing? Is it fame? Is it money? Is it acceptance? Or maybe there’s something much deeper, within each of them, pushing them to seek the truth.
Because when you truly think about it, proper journalism is about uncovering the truth, no matter how risky, real and dangerous it may be. It’s about bringing issues to light and making individuals ask questions.
While we’re all human beings and have the right to our own opinions, journalists have the rightful duty of separating themselves from their stories and uncovering the truth, and there are journalists who do just that.
Oscar winning movie, “Spotlight,” is based on a true story of the Boston Globe exposing the Catholic Church for covering up the scandal of child molestation. In 1986, the Associated Press published stories revealing the Reagan administration’s secret support for Nicaragua’s Contras, later known as the Iran-Contra scandal.
Alabama’s Tuscaloosa News reporters risked their lives covering a deadly tornado during a power outage. Twenty-four-year-old Sara Ganim from the Harrisburg Patriot-News was the first to bring attention to the child molestation allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.
In their article “The iEconomy,” The New York Times uncovers deadly conditions under which Chinese workers assemble iPhones and iPads, bringing attention to labor trafficking.
These are all examples of great stories told by great journalists, who all played a major role in changing the course of history. These are brave individuals who sometimes even go as far as risking their lives to uncover the truth.
There are war photographers, journalists who are often incarcerated, sometimes even tortured and they take all these risks for nothing, but their passion, love and commitment to their jobs.
These are individuals who dedicate their lives to getting to the bottom of the truth. They are heroes who are rarely appreciated and awarded.
I’m not oblivious to the fact that biased news does exist and, as human beings, it’s simply in our nature to be biased, but even when a journalist is doing their job to the best of their abilities, they are still biased.
While you can strip away preconceived notions, false judgements and a one-sided perspective, what you can’t strip away are feelings, thoughts and ideas. Those are our intrinsic human values that make us who we are as individuals.
Because of our unique experiences, it’s inevitable for us to have opinions and as a result, a bias. There are stories that connect with us on a personal level, making us emotional and that is okay, just as long as our bias doesn’t get into our stories.
As contradictory as that may sound, what I mean is, while reporters may have a bias, they cannot allow it to creep into their stories. They should not see a story from a one-sided perspective; therefore, they should not report it from a one-sided perspective.
To stir away from their conscious or unconscious bias, they must make an effort to confirm their stories are well-researched and supported with facts and opposing views.
While it’s the responsibility of journalists to live up to the high standards we hold them accountable for, it’s also our duty as human beings to open ourselves to other ideas. Often people who resort to calling the whole field of journalism biased are also people who dislike news that confronts their ideas, questions their opinions and makes them think outside the comforts of their minds.
But this is what news is there for. It is there to challenge us and allow us to see the world in different perspectives. There is art in storytelling.
Often, we are afraid of what we don’t know, so when we disagree with something, instinctually, we don’t like it. However, this type of mindset is the core of why so many problems even exist today.
If we never take the risk to step outside of our own shoes, how are we going to see the reality of the world? Essentially, words and ideas have power. The power to challenge, influence and form the foundation of society.
If we don’t make an effort to engage in a conversation with someone who has an opposing view, then we will never grow. Similarly, if we don’t allow journalists to present a different perspective of a story, how are we going to grow?
We see the world in its relation to us and that type of mentality is what contributes to the downfall of a society. Instead, we need to see the world in its relation to everyone around us.
Our own bias tends to get in the way of the real truth. So, when the news does its job of displaying real facts and seeks to uncover the truth, it opens our eyes to the real world.
We need journalism more than we know. In the same respect, we need to open ourselves to differing opinions to open our minds.
We can’t allow our false judgements to get in the way. If we set aside our own opinions for a second and really listen to an opposing view, then maybe there’s a chance our eyes may open and our worlds can change.
There is something so powerful about engaging in a meaningful conversation with someone. This is so underrated. It all starts with having the openness to listen and understand where the opposing view is coming from.
So, when you come across a story that makes you question something you’ve known your whole life, or something that encourages you to start a discussion, then the journalist has done their job. That’s what journalism is there for.
Applying the same practice to conversing with people has the same affect. We are surrounded by opinions every day, but really how many of us make an effort to engage in a conversation with someone who has a different view than us?
This is exactly where the problem lies. If we don’t open ourselves to differing views or talk to people who think differently than us, then we will never grow as individuals.
Our preconceived notions and stereotypes will continue to exist. As individuals we are bound to disagree with each other, but as individuals we should also be okay with that.
Instead of being intimidated by opposing views, we should have the courage to question why we believe certain things are the way they are. Instead of discrediting news sources, making instant judgements and false assumptions, if we instead, took the time to listen and educate ourselves, we would learn from each other’s ideas. And then, maybe, we would realize we’re more connected than we know.
So, as much as we need journalists to uncover the truth, we also need to open our minds and expand our horizons. However, in retrospect, it’s also our job to do our research and not take things at surface level. I urge you to go deeper and get to the bottom of the truth.
Often, people don’t understand the power words and ideas can have, but journalists who love their jobs, do. And those are journalists who are truly making a difference in the world. They are going above and beyond, uncovering the truth.
While there are biased journalists who aren’t faithful to their jobs, there are also individuals who care very deeply for the work they do and for this reason, I believe the true essence of journalism is not dead. And for as long as the faithful journalists stick to their values and do their jobs, the true essence of journalism will continue to exist and persist in defying boundaries.
There is something beautiful about hearing people share their story with an openness to change your mind, but there is something powerful about being there, in that moment, to let them.