Should the NYT Report the Truth?

via Shakesville

Short answer: Well, NER.

I’m amazed that this question even has to be asked. Yet, in a way, I’m glad they did.

I’ve never thought much of journalism–this goes back to my days at WKU, which has, reportedly, a very good journalism program. I was of the opinion that journalism really shouldn’t be a separate field of study, and I expressed that opinion quite often. What was the point, I reasoned, when one could major in English, with a focus on writing? The journalism program pushed forth a very dry, bland writing style. Their stars were more reminiscent of a rabid tabloid columnist than anything else. The good writers that emerged from that program were good writers despite the program, not because of it.

What makes a good journalist is a combination of being a good writer and a decent person: write well, hunger for truth, ask the difficult questions, and always, when reporting, make known what your purpose is, and ask permission to quote.

Each genre of writing has a different purpose. The purpose of journalism is to inform, to educate, to spread truth and expose lies. Because of this, the public grants journalism an element of trust–the words of a journalist are trusted by the public to be true, to be the whole story.

Journalism, clearly, has betrayed that trust.

Perhaps this is the beginning of an effort to earn that trust again. However, it is a sign of how badly that trust has been betrayed when I wonder if this is an honest effort, or perhaps a marketing outreach to discover which market is larger: the one of truth or of lies.


About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

One Response to Should the NYT Report the Truth?

  1. Dominique Millette says:

    As a reporter, quite honestly, I was floored by the question. If not the truth, then what in the world do we report? This said, there is a slight difference between journalism and writing outside of journalism: reporters must absolutely understand libel laws in whatever jurisdiction they are working, and must understand Access to Information laws and tools. There is also the matter of knowing how to verify sources and do thorough fact-checking. Also, increasingly, print reporters must be able to not only take pictures and video, but know how to edit both media, sometimes in addition to audio, and upload as well as manage content online, using social media and SEO. If the style of writing is dry, this is because in print, you must write in an inverse pyramid with the most vital information in the first paragraph. Online, you must capture readers’ interest within 10 to 17 words.

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