The Guardians of Truth – The role of journalism in today’s world

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Photo by Megan Schneider

Megan Schneider
Contributor

The New York Times sponsored an event for UNO students and staff interested in investigative journalism and the pursuit of a career in news. The event for journalists was held in the Milo Bail Student Center Nebraska Room on Tuesday, March 26.

The sole purpose of the event was to think about who guards the truth and to encourage an open discussion with table moderators.

A spokesperson who gave opening remarks said, “Think twice about what you read and who wrote it.”

Since 1927, Time magazine has named a person of the year. Journalists, or the guardians of truth, were named the 2018 Person of the Year. Journalists received the nomination due to being threatened, killed or imprisoned for what they wrote. Some were targeted for simply doing their job.

Emily White, an undergraduate student studying communications, gave a presentation that spotlighted journalists in the field.

“In 2018, 34 journalists were killed. Last year, 250 journalists were in prison. 60 journalists can’t be found or are missing. Two people have been murdered so far in 2019,” said White.

She lamented on the late Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, who was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

“He was killed for doing his job,” said White.

White used The Capital Gazette shooting as an example to show that journalists may have the most dangerous career in the world. A man stormed into Maryland’s Capital Gazette newsroom killing five employees on June 28, 2018.

During the 2016 presidential election, trust in the media hit an all-time low.

“Truth today is not necessarily black and white,” said White.

In the era of “fake news,” the line between news and opinion has become increasingly blurred. It can be hard for truth to be told beyond opinion these days.

However, journalists are bound by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics. They are obligated to share factually and correct news.

When mistakes are made, they are held accountable and corrections are issued.

“The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media,” which are to seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent, according to SPJ’s website.

It’s important to tell people when they are on the record by being upfront. Legitimate ethics bound reporting needs to be practiced each day.

“When anti-media rhetoric flourishes, trust is muddy. A journalist’s role is to provide the public with the truth,” said White.

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