To Fabricate or Not to Fabricate: A Journalistic Struggle

12 Apr

In the field of journalism accuracy and speed are extremely important. Being unbiased and objective are also viable qualities of a good journalist. Yet the driving force behind a lot of stories is the need to get the most truthful information in a timely manner. But sometimes the mounting pressure and stress of trying to get a good story and meet deadlines can cause some ethical issues to arise in this field.

I can’t speak for all journalist but I know that I personally have dealt with my share of ethical issues. Sometimes I get so backed up with work that I find it hard to get the good info I need for a story in a timely manner.  Although I would never fabricate a story or makeup information, there have been times where I’ve thought about it. The main reason being to help lighten my workload and alleviate the stress of trying to meet a rapidly approaching deadline.

However not all journalist can easily shake off these temptations. All you have to do is google names like Jason Blair, Brian Williams, Sean Hamburg, etc. I mean, the list goes on and on. Although the motives for these guys making up their news stories may vary it can’t be argued that it did irreversible damage to their credibility and image and negatively affected the reputation of the news outlets with which they worked for.

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“When I was a journalism major I too thought of taking the easy way out. Although I never did, it sometimes crossed my mind” says Taja White, a past journalism major.

She told me that what helped her stay true to her morals was remembering that as a journalist her obligation was to the public. Although fabricating information would have been easier for her, it would have discredited her info to her readers.

“I was raised with very strong morals and I don’t honestly think I could sleep well knowing that I’ve put out false information to the public,” White says.

It should be common sense to know that it is highly important to make sure that as journalists, and as citizens, we stay connected to the truth. The media industry, as well as news outlets, are being labeled “fake” and are receiving a lot more backlash for misinformed or incorrect information nowadays.

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I think a great solution to this problem has already been mentioned by Taja White. As journalists, we have an obligation to provide the truth to the general public. Taking shortcuts in order to ease our workloads is selfish.

This thought is something that I feel will help to keep me on the proper path when conducting research and compiling interviews/reports. By looking at the bigger picture and realizing that what I do is bigger than me helps. It creates an air of pride knowing that I am, in a way, partially responsible for the new things that someone could learn. The last thing I want to do is purposefully mislead someone because I was having a hectic day.

So in the end it all really comes down to how you view your work and how you want to be portrayed, because getting caught fabricating news does irreversible damage to a journalist’s career. If all your hard work was worth it then you should stay true to the morals that have been guiding you throughout your career. Why risk all that you’ve worked for just to try to make it easy for yourself? Keep working hard because in this field the best stories are always the toughest to get and your viewers/readers will in some way, shape, or form be grateful for the truth that you have provided for them.

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