“Seek truth and report it.” These five words are the very first line, after the preamble, of the Society of Professional Journalists’s Code of Ethics. I have spent this last year learning just what this means. Journalistic integrity, for me, has now become more than just being truthful and ethical in my writing but in my personal life as well. What I have learned here at The Torch will stick with me well into the future, but I am unsure about what will last into the future for this form of media.
News is a huge part of most people’s daily lives. Whether they’re reading the newspaper, watching a news broadcast, reading an article online or listening to the radio, people are constantly consuming news. Of all of these forms of media, newspapers seem to be growing more and more unpopular. In 2016 only 20 percent of United States adults got their news from a newspaper, 71 percent of which are over the age of 50, according to Pew Research Center. This is due to our society gravitating more and more towards a digitally-based way of life.
Technology is constantly changing and growing incredibly quickly. It is now easier for people to just search for things like current events, job listings and local happenings than it is for them to wait for a newspaper to be delivered. Since people seem to enjoy anything that is quicker and easier, this is leading to the downfall of newspapers everywhere, such as the recent closure of the local weekly Springfield Times. I have spent a lot of my time as editor-in-chief at The Torch working on improving our online presence and moving this publication toward a more digitally-centered operation for exactly this reason. It may be time to start leaving the ways of print behind.
With a digitally-centered news publication, however, the topic of journalistic integrity becomes even more important. Along with it being easier for people to access more news more quickly, it also becomes easier for reporters to change a story and lose track of what the true message is within all of the many reports out there. This leads to the ever-present concept of fake news, which was a large part of the 2016 election season.
“The fake news media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” current U.S. President, Donald Trump said in a tweet back in February.
The media coverage of this election was lacking in that it seemed to focus more on social concepts than actually seeking out the truth. When newspapers were in their prime, reporters were seeking out new stories of which no one had any inclination to cover. Now they simply report on stories that have already been reported on instead of investigating and finding new facts to report. This has brought the media to a sort of crossroads. News outlets have a decision to make. Will they continue down the path of what I consider to be laziness in just sitting by waiting for something interesting to happen so that they can post it online and move on to something else, or will they remember what it means to be a journalist and “Seek Truth and Report it.”