I have long subscribed to — and attempted to live up to — the idea that the goal of journalism is to lend comfort to those in need, and to make uncomfortable those comforted by greed.
As a journalist long past his prime, I continue to hold these non-negotiable tenets of what my profession’s aspirations were, and what they still may be:
- To illuminate the dark alleys of ignorance with the unfiltered light of facts and to shine not a ray of that bright beam upon whataboutism, alternate truths, outright lies, or intellectual shaming.
- To raise up to public scrutiny the virtues of men and women of courage and strength, and to entomb for eternity the rotting philosophies of those who prey on the frightened and weak.
- To underscore that while science is never absolute, the scientific method provides guardrails to keep humanity from veering into a landscape of magical thinking, fantasy, hucksterism, and social collapse.
- To expose the vicious and gutless mobsters of discord and the preachers of destruction who are nothing more than snake-oil vendors of hatred, bigotry, self-indulgence, and self-righteousness.
- To view, and cover, civil disobedience not because it may be a precursor to tyranny, but, absent violence, because it is a right to be protected.
- To stand firm on principle when personal or institutional resolve is threatened by the purveyors of chaos.
- To die on the sword of truth, if need be.
If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing
Such sentiments have been written many other ways by writers of greater eloquence and wider influence. Despite my irrelevance in today’s world of journalism, I believe those opinion writers and editorialists I admire greatly would agree that my non-negotiables were once common benchmarks in our pursuit to represent the broad ethos of journalism writ large.
Many journalists and their organizations continue to practice these, and other tenets of fairness, honesty, and facts, but I am afraid that a rising tide of public dismissiveness and corporate greed is dissolving the shoreline…