I’ve come to realize that people on campus, or anywhere for that matter, don’t necessarily know how journalism works. Thursday, Nov. 4, while covering a faculty meeting for a potential story, some teachers in the room had the impression I was there to write on their behalf. A discussion later ensued where some faculty members said that they wanted to edit and possibly censor what I might write.
Through no fault of their own, they didn’t understand the way the press works. The Torch does not, and should not, represent any party when reporting on a conflict or any other situation. Taking sides would be the antithesis of unbiased reporting.
The purpose of reporting is to tell the truth.
Opinion pieces, such as the commentary above, are different. These can show personal biases of the writer, and we clearly identify which is which.
Rules exist in public education, and practically everywhere else, to keep things on the up-and-up. Those entrusted with fiduciary and other responsibilities are expected to act according to those rules. However, if they don’t, how would the public know? It is the job of journalists to shed light on matters that readers would otherwise not know about, but have every right to know.
To anyone who would want to censor us, I have a question: would you want the college administration or Board of Education to censor The Torch to hide information from you? They don’t, by the way. The college administration and Board of Education open their files and meetings for examination and we write about them with no interference whatsoever. If that ever changes, or if we uncover any impropriety, we will let you know.
The playing field must be level for truth to prevail. Apart from private offices, any place on campus is a public place. News reporters and photojournalists have the right to enter all public places. Lane Community College is a public institution and is not located on private property.
Many journalists feel strongly about being a voice for the voiceless. I am one of them. For this healthy bias to flourish, I believe journalism should be free to operate untethered, and journalists held fully accountable for adhering strictly to the code of ethics of the profession.
We cannot serve two masters; the truth should be central to all we do. Sadly, many journalists serve those who butter their bread. No wonder people have become jaded about the media. I think that colleges are places where the profession of journalism can be restored to its proper role. This means demanding conscious responsible behavior by anyone wielding power.
We invite all to bring their concerns to the Torch. We are, however, under no obligation to investigate anything. specifically. Journalists are entrusted with the responsibility of using their best judgment as to which matters merit investigation.
Without investigative journalism, who would impartially keep an eye on things for you? The answer is: no one.
The code of ethics for journalists can be found online at spj.org. Most major legacy news outlets have their own codes.