UNITED STATES─This is a topic I just had to tackle because as a journalist it is quite important to me. If you were to ask me to explain what is good journalism? It would be a difficult question for me to answer with just a few words. A journalist should always aim first and foremost to remain unbiased in his or her reporting (the days of that have been thrown out the window). You can turn on countless news outlets, read various publications, magazines and just know exactly where someone stands, even though you shouldn’t. Why is this?
Well we live in dangerous times nowadays people. It seems everyone has an agenda when it comes to the news and that is a terrible ideology to come to grips with. Why? News is NEVER to have an agenda. News is to report one thing: the NEWS and nothing else. The sensationalism, the undercutting, the opinions (even if they’re the smallest) should not be part of the story. This is what you’re taught in journalism 101 or perhaps that is a class many reporters, writers and journalists failed to take quality notes on.
This goes back to that interview Gayle King conducted with WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the legacy of NBA star Kobe Bryant. During the interview, King posed the question to Leslie about Kobe’s legacy and if his 2003 sexual assault case where charges were later dismissed should be part of his story. Leslie indicated it shouldn’t, but the uproar came at the expense of King who has been hounded in the public sphere, so much to the point that she received death threats by some.
Yes, I saw the video by rapper Snoop Dogg, as I know many of you have seen. It was disturbing to watch and was quite uncomfortable to say the least. Here is the problem that I don’t understand. What was the issue with King asking that question? People, it’s a legit question. As a journalist it is our job to tell the entire story even the parts that make us uncomfortable or the parts that make other people uncomfortable. Why? Journalism is about the truth, and when you omit facts from a story it changes the ENTIRE DYNAMIC of a story.
That is like writing a news piece about Hitler, where let’s say he saved a little girl from being hit by a car, but the journalist decides to omit everything else from the piece, like how Hitler killed thousands of Jews. By skewing detail or NOT including it in a story it changes the perception of the story and it can without a doubt sway how a person perceives an individual or the story itself.
If this becomes a trend in journalism this is very worrisome to me. Why? It means we’ll be getting the news that is missing vital information because someone thought it was not suitable to be part of the story. Let me be crystal clear on this: if it’s a fact it has to be PART OF THE STORY. Regardless of how tough the detail is. The goal is not to destroy or tarnish someone’s life or legacy, but good journalism tells the entire story, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Once the entire story is presented without any skew, it allows the READER to make his or her decision based on what has been presented. Your goal as a journalist is NOT to sway people in a certain direction. Let the public make that decision themselves. We are in this chaotic world right now where everyone has an opinion and everyone wants their opinion to be heard no matter what, even those in the world of journalism, who should not be doing that.
If you can’t trust journalists to report the truth in news, than tell me: what is the purpose of having the news in the first place? The scariest thing is a journalist who can hide the truth from a story, look at themselves at the mirror knowing the world will read this piece and think it is true, when loopholes are missing. If that journalist can sleep at night with no remorse that is damn scary!