Rate our journalistic integrity
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 23:01
Who do you trust to deliver news?
Gallup released a study last November ranking how much faith the public has in various professions. According to the survey, only 24 percent of Americans rated journalism as meeting a high standard of ethics.
At least we rank higher than lawyers and car salespeople.
Our job is to seek and report the truth. We learn about the ethics of media writing in the few classes offered at Oregon State University. Working at The Daily Barometer gives us an opportunity to apply these standards. Even though this is a classroom of sorts — where we make mistakes — we have a journalistic obligation to report honestly.
It’s not difficult to fathom why the American public distrusts major news organizations. News Junkie Post editor-in-chief, Gilbert Mercier, couldn’t have put it better when he wrote, “mainstream media is in bed with the economic and political powers they are supposed to keep a vigilant eye on.”
Frankly, we don’t trust mainstream media either. Yet, we continue to involve ourselves in the world of journalism. Our mission and commitment to the job keeps us searching for the facts. Ultimately, when we join the real world, we want to change the public’s mind about journalists.
First, however, we must prove ourselves in the college realm — we must prove ourselves to you.
Though truth is the top asset in news reporting, Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Patterson, outlined a few factors the larger media conglomerates may have let slide:
“Be beyond price; fear no threatener, favor no pal.”
“Be an example of integrity.”
“Be vigilant; to defend the First Amendment, deliver on its purpose: question authority; watch the empowered; right wrongs.”
Libel, defamation of someone’s reputation or character, is always on our minds. Working for a student-run newspaper does not protect us against libelous charges.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s newspaper, The Famuan, for example, has delayed publication in 2013 due to a libel suit over a hazing story. The Famuan “inaccurately implicated [Keon] Hollis in the Nov. 19, 2011, hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.”
Though The Famuan hasn’t officially been served with the lawsuit, they have reacted. The publication published a correction and removed all accounts of the article from its website. Still, trainings and workshops keep Famuan staff busy before their first print day, Jan. 30.
Clearly, students are not exempt from libel. Anyone, actually, can be sued for it — even opinion columnists.
We’ve faced libel lawsuits in the past, too. It’s something every journalist or media organization will have to handle. Part of journalistic ethics is admitting when you’re wrong and correcting the error.
We strive to produce a daily publication with accurate information, intelligent and thought-provoking arguments and opinions. We want to continue providing informative and entertaining material for the OSU student body and Corvallis.
With this in mind, where would you rate The Daily Barometer on ethical, factual and accurate reporting? Let us know in a letter to the editor.
Editorials serve as means for Barometer editors to offer commentary and opinions on issues both global and local, grand in scale or diminutive. The views expressed here are a reflection of the editorial board’s majority.