Posted by: Amie | October 3, 2008

“Ethics” in Journalism

It’s not like I’m the most naive chickadee on the block, here. I’ve come to find out (thanks to living my formative years during the Bush Administration) that the media often twists the truth. (Duh.)

We live close enough to a larger city that their newspaper actually is more relevant, but we buy our county’s local paper for laughs. I don’t think a single issue has printed that didn’t have a horrible photo, a misprint, a grammatical or spelling error since I have been able to read. Sad as it is, we simply buy it to find the errors for laughs. However, yesterday’s mistake hit close enough to home that I finally made due on my promise to call and complain.

My sister has been selected as a student ambassador to travel next summer to Europe. We have been incredibly jealous excited for her opportunity to go and experience places most of us have only seen on TV and in books. While the nominations are selective, she wasn’t the only one selected to attend, but the prices are quite steep and not many people can put up the funds to send their kids away.

We opened the paper yesterday to see a huge article of a smiling, arms folded, braces wearing teenager next to her proud Army fatigue-wearing father with his hand on her shoulder. The article talked about how People to People Student Ambassadors take students overseas to learn about culture and represent their communities and schools. That part was all kosher. Then came a bunch of half-truths about the organization and total misinformation. (My favorite: “[students] will travel to countries such as England, Italy and Paris” (not a country, Sweetcheeks))All of that could have gone ignored (like so many other blunders the paper’s printed before) until, “Brent Snyder said his daughter is the only Clinton County student selected. How Samantha was nominated is still a mystery, Brent said.”

Oh, really? Do tell.

So sick of this paper’s constant blatant lack of professionalism (and of course, defending my own), I picked up the phone and dialed the editor’s office. The editor is out until Monday, but guess to whom my call was directed? The author of the article itself. I mentioned the article and its content, and immediately she went on the defensive. “Well, I tried to contact the People to People representative for our area, but no one answered, so I just printed what Mr. Snyder said.”

Great. Let’s just print a bunch of sh*t that people say and present it as fact. I think I’m going to start my own newspaper tomorrow. If I’d known journalism was so easy, I would have done it years ago.

The irony is this woman was hired with the best resume of the reporting staff and was said to “be a great improvement” to the publication. Bah.

If a journalist can’t take a few minutes to find out information for something as inane as a high school trip (no offense, Amity), I don’t think they should carry the title of journalist at all.

Now, before you make fun of me for getting my feathers all ruffled up because of something like this, it’s scary to think of how this stuff goes on on a larger scale. Fox News tosses in spin into any and all things “liberals” say. CNN reports “news” from the war abroad.

When you can’t trust your hometown newspaper to print facts on simplistic subjects, you certainly can’t trust corporate media, with their hands in everyone’s pockets, to give you the truth.

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