BY SAVANNAH RHEINHART, Editor-in-Chief
Throughout the past few months, the news has been riddled with stories about violent deaths by the hands of police officers. Many believe the deaths were unnecessary and due to racism. Others believe that the officers were doing what was necessary. One thing is for sure: multiple black Americans have died this year by the police.
Whether I agree with one side or another, there are elements of these tragedies that stand to be true despite personal beliefs. The lack of journalist integrity throughout these events is something that everyone saw beginning with Ferguson and later on with Eric Garner and others. Unchecked facts, editorializing, and inappropriate “sources” were rampant on all of the news stations, not just the usual Fox News. It seemed as if every hour, there was a new “update” to correct the information that was incorrectly released prior. Making these practices common in journalism no longer makes it journalism. As best, it is spin. At worst, it’s manipulation of the people by the media.
In my Intro to Journalism class, which I took when most of you still had braces and training bras, we spent days discussing integrity, ethics, and the law. Later on, I took a class on media law and ethics, which went much deeper into what these things meant, slander and libel, and the misuse of media. These two classes, along with every other journalism class I’ve ever taken, stress the same things: journalism is a public service for the people and it is a journalist’s responsibility to uphold a personal and professional code of ethics. Believe me, I would love to write a news article about the Republican National Convention and tell readers how they should think and feel, but it’s not my place as a journalist.
While I am a huge fan of a nice peaceful protest, the recent protests of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown shootings have taken violent turns. I don’t agree with the violence, especially because those protesting are protesting against it, I can understand the frustration. The constant news coverage showing manipulated video footage, misquoting, and general inaccuracies. It doesn’t help that most of this coverage is by middle class white Americans. Fraudulent and sensational journalism can absolutely be linked as partial causation for violence.
Journalists always want to be the first with a story. When a celebrities dies, an underdog sports team wins (Maybe next year, Lions), or a racially charged grand jury case appears, the media wants to expose it. But it isn’t worth the inconsistency, inaccuracy, and manipulation. Journalism is for the people, by the people. Not for special interests, by biased news outlets.