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The Founding Fathers decided that journalism mattered in 1787. So much so that they decided to ensure a free press was the only occupation to be protected by the Constitution. This isn’t something that should be taken lightly.
Journalism isn’t the “enemy of the people,” it’s the protector. It’s the guardian of democracy. It’s the checks and balances for the entire government. Without a free press, there’s no accountability. There’s no motivation for honesty. But with it, the people have both the knowledge and the power to call out those in power when they’re wrong.
As journalists, it’s our responsibility to communicate the truth. To analyze the constantly changing news to pinpoint what the people need to know. It’s a constant job. It requires a watchful eye and a ready pen and at times, a never-ending supply of patience from the journalists who must sift through it all.
Sometimes we make mistakes.
That doesn’t mean we’re not doing our jobs, or that we should be considered “fake news.” Imperfection is an undeniable aspect of human nature, and journalists are not an exception to this. Miscommunication and misunderstanding are part of the job. Sometimes news will be reported incorrectly. But it is never the intention of responsible media – the type of media we aim to be and the type most newspapers are major news stations are — to purposefully alter the story or to paint individuals in a bad light.
We know we’re not perfect. We know we can always improve the story. And we’re always going to try.
Recently, at political rallies, journalists have been jeered simply for covering the event. In another instance, a Bosnian journalist was beaten at a United States Embassy for his editorial writing.
To villainize journalists, to attack the fundamentals of a free press itself, isn’t just an attack on journalists or publications. It’s an attack on democracy.
Many who attack the media say otherwise. Some say journalists are trying to dismantle democracy in the United States. The Constitution would argue otherwise. What could we stand to gain from ignorance?
Our role is important to understand.
We’re not always going to write what people want to hear. But that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to tell the stories people need to hear to understand what’s happening in the world. It’s not our job to be nice to the people in power.
It’s also important to be smart. Not every story that poses as news is a reliable source. It’s crucial to differentiate between what’s trustworthy and what isn’t. We’ll always do our job, but we can’t be blamed by consumers who read and share unreliable garbage on the Internet.
Journalism is a necessary fixture in our society. Mistakes are always going to be a part of it, but that doesn’t mean the entire institution is untrustworthy, or out to derail politics. We’re here to do our job, and sometimes our job gets messy, but we’ll always do our best to clean up any messes.