Sunday, September 12, 2004

Guts, not glory

Having just returned from the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists, I was happy to read Sam's post about our efforts to revive the campus chapter here at USC. As I said in last week's meeting, we need this organization now more than ever. The 1,000 professional and student journalists who met in New York City for the convention were reminded of the principles that have defined modern-era journalism -- commitment to accuracy and truth, independence and integrity. Broadcasting legend Walter Cronkite, NBC Nightly News's Brian Williams and independent journalist and PBS host Bill Moyers, among others, sounded cautionary notes about declining standards in the profession, marked by gross lapses in judgment and a reluctance to ask tough questions of those who hold the public trust. Why have journalists grown so timid? Maybe it's related to what Bill Moyers said Saturday: Too many journalists are more interested in getting close to powerful people than they are in getting close to the truth. Any thoughts?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me the most vicious attacks on journalists and their careers are dealt out during election years. And, it's the simple fact that everyone has a personal opinion, which is OK. But what I am trying to convey here is the fact that too many journalists are imposing their own personal views into their reporting-something that must, in my opinion, always be avoided. I think this is one of the reasons that many viewers get so fed up with journalists. My goal as a journalist is to bring back some integrity to our craft and give people reason to trust us once again by telling the truth. I was watching a gentleman today on one of these forum-type news spots, and he made a good point: Our founding fathers did not give us freedom of the press because they liked the media; they gave it to us to protect America. And when journalists start deciding what they believe to be the truth and not what the facts support, we get in trouble. Bottom line: we must take our biased opinions and toss them out of the window when we walk into the newsroom. End of story.
On the subject of journalistic timidness, I do not believe it's timidness at all. I think it's all tied back to having biased journalists. For example, as I was watching FNC's Hannity and Colmes tonight I clearly saw this biased nonsense. Granted it is designed to be an opinionated program, it does provide a good example of when and to whom these journalists target questions. Hannity, a staunch Republican, only threw tough questions at guests with very Democratic views, leaving me to ask the question, "Who in the hell am I supposed to believe here?" And the same was true with his co-host Colmes. Instead of the two trying to accurately report the truth, they fought until the bitter end trying to glorify their party to the utmost potential. Until we rid ourselves of the "personal opinion" idiom, you can bet journalism will continue down the toilet.
Graeme Moore

11:49 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

i don't really get the whole fascination with fame/powerful people that people have, but i do think a lot of people get intimidated sometimes. it just seems odd to me. but then again, i am the world's worst conversation starter so i guess i have no room to talk. but anyway, journalism should always be about getting the truth, and i think too many people go into it for the wrong reasons. if you don't really have a passion for it then it's not going to work very well to your advantage in the long run.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Cedric Nettles said...

I think whole-heartedly that one of the roles of the journalist is to be a watch dog for nonsense. You have to ask both sides tough questions to expose who is telling the truth and who is not. I think it is fine as long as a person gets a fair chance to defend their positions. The CBS issue...CRAZY. I woild like to see one of us get away with that at USC.

4:37 PM  

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