Recent editorials have made attempts to defend the press as not being an enemy of the people.
But in these essays the attribute of honesty is noticeably absent. It is axiomatic that a free press is indispensable to a free people. But inherent in this freedom is a responsibility to be honest in reporting. If a writer wants to advocate a particular viewpoint, the editorial page is the appropriate place.
Years ago, readers trusted the media for unbiased reporting. But the likes of Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, Juan Thompson, Jason Blair, and even Bob Woodward et. al. have tainted the media in many eyes as biased and untrustworthy. Whatever their reason, false reporting damages the industry.
Sacrificing credibility has tenuous gains. Abraham Lincoln said, “If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.” Much of the mainstream press with their unchecked accusations, rush to be first, and biased reporting has forfeited their role as objective informer of news. Many formerly respected news outlets see shrinking viewership statistics as people search elsewhere for objective information.
Hiding behind the First Amendment is a pusillanimous way of legitimizing one’s actions. Just because you have a right to publish does not absolve the obligation for accuracy and rectitude. As Juan Williams stated, “The critical importance of honest journalism…is being buried as collateral damage in a war whose battles include political correctness and ideological orthodoxy.” Journalistic integrity should not be an oxymoron.
Carol Marin cogently defined real journalism as “telling an uncomfortable story to an unwilling public because it is the right thing to do. Not the marketable thing to do.” If the Media want to reclaim their place as valuable purveyor of information, they need to honestly and accurately present news to the people. “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” – Edward R. Murrow.
“Character is much easier kept than recovered” (Thomas Paine) and so is faith in the Media.