Just as soon as journalism deliberately leaves truth behind it stops being journalism.
It is the responsibility of the journalist to make sure this doesn’t happen by double checking sources- by not publishing before pertinent facts are known, by doing no harm to innocents.
If a story is used to promote an agenda it crosses over into propaganda. Propaganda may contain truth, but even if it does it is often exaggerated to promote a cause. News does not support a cause. It reports the truth.
Truth must be acceptable no matter how difficult it is to bear. Truth is not racist, even if it’s about race. The truth has no prejudice, truth is honorable. Truth bears no ill will, even for those who have committed an injustice and may be punished as a result of it being reported. Truth is factual.
What is believed to be truth can have more than one vantage point, as an event observed from two different places. If those vantage point are supported by facts, then it is still the reporters attempt to find the ultimate truth. Is the runner out at first base or is he not?
An editorial is not truth. Editorial is opinion. Editorial might reflect what everybody is thinking, but it is still opinion. It may incorporate truth within it, and it may not. An editorial contains bias. The words used within it are words that color what is written. Editorial is not journalism.
A journalist can write an editorial. It remains an editorial. If a journalist writes a “news” story that contains words that express personal feelings or bias it is editorial not news.
I believe what is often called “news” today is frequently and deliberately or carelessly misstated, misreported, distorted, embellished, under reported, buried, and ignored. The integrity of the journalist is under attack and it needs to be.
They must prove they are honest journalists. They must prove they are worthy of our time to read what they have written. If they are not, they need to be fired. They discredit the organization. They dishonor us, the reader or listener.
To be clear, a lie is a mistruth known by the person who says it, to be false at the time of it’s utterance.
A statement believed to be true by the person at the time it is said, but where the statement turns out to be false is not a lie, it is simply an error.
What was the INTENT? To report or to deceive?
That reporter may still be the object of criticism if they did not sufficiently investigate the story that is the basis of the comment or story before making it public. They have the responsibility to be sure that what they are about to say is true. But a reasonable person, after reading something from a credible source should feel free to trust and comment upon it.
It is always INTENT that determines the character of the reporter.
How would I correct today’s situation? Vote with my wallet. Cancel subscriptions to services and periodicals either in print or on-line that repeatedly distort. I would no longer watch news that does so. Boycott sponsors of such programs AND TELL THE SPONSORS why I am doing so.
An dIf enough of you do that, dignity, honesty and fairness may return.