Opinion: American Journalism and the Death of Integrity in the Industry

By: Zack Duvall

During my early-twenties while I was expanding my outlook on life and researching what it was that made a great journalist great, I heard a quote that, to this day, has always led me to a rebuttal question.

“You don’t kill the truth by killing the journalist.”

That’s the quote that, for me at least, has always led to the following question. If the above quote is true, than at what point does the journalist kill the truth? To take that question even further I would ask, can the truth really be killed? Or would the term be, suppressed, hidden, or any other synonym for the word concealed?

During the last year and a half, the American public has been a witness to the complete unravel of many of their favorite cable news networks and personalities. They’ve watched the complete breakdown of integrity, that even as strained as it was in the past decade or two, was still expected to be somewhat present in the industry.

Then came November 8, 2016. A day that will forever live in infamy for many at virtually every major cable news network and broadcasting company Americans had come to trust and watch for years, and in many households for generations.

The fact that such a reaction of resentment, disbelief, and open hatred for a justly elected President was drawn from those who have taken the career path of journalism, and all of the responsibility that comes with it, highlights how far gone the American media scene is. The fact that such open partisanship is prevalent on almost every major news program goes to show how far some in journalism are willing to go to put their name in a national policy debate.

It seems that many current journalists took up the profession of journalism as a way into the field of politics because they lack the passion to actually enact change, or the ability to be trustworthy and dedicated enough to get elected to political office. They are willing to sacrifice their professional integrity for a minute in the spotlight in order to give their, in many times a very flawed, opinion on national policy.

In case any of my fellow journalists do by chance read this article allow me to remind you of something, YOU ARE NOT THE STORY. You are simply the vessel that is to report the story and all of the FACTS surrounding said story. Sensationalizing “reports” or headlines for ratings and to further your own fame, while at the same time openly showcasing your bias, does nothing but show you are too arrogant to fill the role of a true journalist, and too ignorant to realize it.

Journalism did not start out with the goal of being yet another outlet for political parties or figures to campaign their message and criticize their enemies. It started as a way to keep the public informed with nothing but unbiased facts. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

It is not our job to decide how Americans should feel about issues, topics, or national policy debates. It is our job to investigate these said scenarios and gather facts about said scenarios, and to put those facts into a semi-coherent piece of written or digital literature.

The American people are smart enough to develop their own thoughts about issues facing the nation. To try and sway them based on your personal thoughts about the matter at hand or being covered is nothing short of a severe injustice, and an insult to every American capable enough of forming their own beliefs and opinions.

Knowledge is truly power, and the right to a free press is something that America has always stood for and been proud of. But just as America being a free country doesn’t mean you can do anything without consequence, being the member of a free press doesn’t entitle you to pervert the profession of journalism and publish only partisan slander and false reports.

At some point the American people are going to truly say enough is enough. The plummeting ratings of many long standing programs within the last few months proves that. Americans will defend the right to a free press, but we will not defend the right of a free press to lie and filter information for political gains. The fact that many in the media would even consider this puts them in the company of many past brutal dictators they claim their opponents are embodying.

My final point for my fellow journalists is this, I know that being a blogger may not be the most profitable job, especially since your following would be minimal due to the fact that Americans overwhelmingly rejected everything you stand for this past year, but that is a profession where you can openly showcase your contempt of your political rivals and you wouldn’t have to ruin the profession of journalism to do so.

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