A friend pointed this out to me early this morning, and it’s been playing on my mind ever since.
I don’t think newspapers have ever really been impartial, at least not totally. I’m pretty sure that for as long as there have been news agencies, there have also been editors and reporters picking and choosing their news – deciding what they want the readers to know and not know. Such is the nature of man I think.
Journalists are supposed to be a special breed though. In Canada and the United States, Freedom of the Press is law. It is law, under both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the US Constitution that there is a free press.
What is Freedom of the Press? Simply put, it is the Freedom to print or publish without governmental interference.
And while governments are expected to abide by this fundamental freedom under democracy, journalists are expected to abide by certain standards as well. A code of ethics – A code of principles that direct journalists in their work. Throughout the world existing codes have some differences, but most share common elements such as he principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability.
The whole reason for a free press and a journalistic code is so that people are properly informed of what is going on around them. At least that’s what I grew up believing and that’s what I learned in school.
Journalists are not bloggers, and they are not politicians, or partisans – at least not while they are putting their name under a by-line. So when I see something like, “Star joins global climate crusade” and “56 newspapers in 45 countries have united to demand action.” I ask myself why, and then I think back to some of the key words that are supposed to govern journalism: Objectivity, impartiality, fairness.
Now I don’t care where you stand on this issue, at least not for the purposes of this post. You can agree with climate change, or global warming, or you can think it is all a bunch of bunk (and if you’ve seen previous posts here or on the BT Forums you’ll know where I stand)!
Whatever your opinions, you can not reasonably tell me that for a major newspaper, major newspapers, that it is perfectly justifiable to pick sides, to openly say to its readers, “We have chosen this!” That is a breech of everything that a journalist is supposed to stand for.
The media, print or otherwise has a duty to report both sides of this story, and of every story – until one is proven truer than the other.
Neither The Star nor the other 56 newspapers mentioned should be supporting anything in this regard. They should be reporting everything. That and that alone is their job!