I’ve had troubling issues on my mind lately that are constantly poking at me, and won’t seem to go away. It’s becoming evident that, until I open a vent, it’s not going anywhere. I’ll pause here to offer a spoiler alert…these thoughts will quite possibly annoy, perhaps anger some people, but I will simply remind those that this is my blog, my outlet, my opinion. My hope, however, is that perhaps these words will offer something to think about.
When I think of a journalist, I think of someone who is capable of sharing information with his or her audience in a mature, articulate, and intelligent manner. I realize there are different types of journalists, but I believe that, regardless of his or her subject matter or medium, there are a few things, guidelines if you choose, that all journalists should follow. There are three that have been on my mind lately.
First and foremost, do research so that you are able to present the facts, and are able to support them with documentation. I see a lot of journalists today, even those in the ‘public’ eye, who fail to do this. In my opinion, this can be, and often is damaging to the journalist’s reputation. Falling in this category is also the journalist who picks and chooses which ‘parts’ of the truth to share, and does so in a manner which may present fact, but presents it completely out of context. This is something we see daily from journalists in the political circles. I believe this is just as bad, if not worse than presenting false facts.
I think a journalist has a responsibility to learn how to properly use the language in which he or she reports. Words, after all, are what the business is about, whether spoken or written. If you want to be taken seriously in any profession, it is imperative that you know how to use the tools necessary to get the job done. Be able to present your report, thoughts, opinions, etc., in an intelligent manner. While in this posting I am focusing on journalists, I truly think this applies to everyone. If you are unable to express yourself without resorting to the use of foul and obscene language, then there is truly something lacking in your education, your intelligence, and/or your character.
The last thing I want to mention is the one that has troubled me the most lately. I believe a journalist holds a certain responsibility to avoid using his or her position and power to intentionally bring harm to others. I think -everyone- has that responsibility, but a journalist, by definition, is reaching out to an audience, and often that audience is quick to incite. Far too often a person’s reputation is damaged, relationships threatened, and most dangerous of all, the emotional damage, which is often irreparable. In my opinion, it is a blatant abuse of power, and is perhaps the greatest wrong a journalist can do.
While my thoughts were focused on journalists, most of these points could be, perhaps should be, practiced by each and every one of us every day.