Journalistic Responsibility

More stories from Jon Pearcy

Journalistic Responsibility

Journalistic Responsibility. It’s the idea that every journalist, no matter how popular, has a responsibility for the integrity of their story. Journalists are powerful people. They can change people’s opinions or expose things that many would like to keep hidden, but when it comes to reporting on the news, there one things they shouldn’t change: the facts.


In the age of modern media the news has changed drastically. Where once it was a slow paced daily read or watch, it has instead become a constant barrage of updates and news flashes. That’s partially our fault; the modern world craves instant gratification, and the idea of waiting for the news seems dull to many, but what goes around comes around. This need for instant gratification has changed the dynamics of how news is reported. It is no longer about who gathered the most correct facts or who tells it the best, it is about who can get it out fastest.


With fast has come sloppy. So many news stories no longer wait for the facts, or even look for them at all, since they are all about being first to show the world. In their quest to be the fastest they use opinions and speculation, too often creating wildly misleading stories which are much worse than the facts themselves. Not only that, but many sources of news have themselves become corrupt, losing sight of their journalistic responsibility in the haste to push their agenda. The news isn’t supposed to be about an agenda, or even opinions at all, it’s supposed to be about facts.


Faster news has also made news much more easily accessible, people no longer have to wait for the daily news segment or pick up a newspaper; with a few taps of their fingers they can have access to thousands of options and sources. This has created a new beast, the idea of selling a story. News sources suddenly started embellishing their stories to make them more appealing and interesting. While at the surface this seems like a good idea it leads to things like clickbait or exaggerated information in a story.


When selling the story suddenly becomes more important than selling the facts, the stories that are covered change. The most obvious example is televised prime time news stations. Rarely ever do they cover simple facts or news stories, they jump from one tragedy and horror to the next. In one of the most peaceful periods of human existence it has made it seem like we are constantly on the brink of our own destruction. Stations have started following a rule that, with the easily distracted audience of the modern world, is unfortunately true: “If it bleeds, it reads.”


But in a world of instant gratification, a world where the audience jumps from one story to the next on a whim, it’s important that they are getting the right information on each story, because there’s a good chance they’ll never come back. If the first story is one filled with speculation and opinions, and that’s all anybody reads, then the news station shouldn’t be proud of having a popular story, it should be ashamed of lying to it’s audience. Because that’s what it comes down to; when the story isn’t really true, but it’s worded to seem true, it’s a lie. News sources can claim that it’s not their fault, that their audience should be more careful or inform themselves better, but the truth is that the truth is their job.