I didn’t realized until I talked with my boss today that the hardest aspect of my job is fighting against the increasing pull toward cynicism common for many journalists.
When I first entered journalism about 17 years ago, I was filled with the desire to conquer the world and make a difference in society by fighting against corrupt politicians, protecting the public from wrongdoing, giving causes a voice.
What I’ve learned, though, is that most politicians can’t be trusted, sources have their own agenda and aren’t simply spilling their guts for the public’s benefit, and many lack the ability to take responsibility for their own actions.
For instance, one particular politician in our community once ran on a platform of being for the people and believing that the newspaper operates as a forum for the readers, to inform and hold government officials accountable for their actions. However, when that person’s wrongdoings create an uncomfortable situation and lands his or her name in the headlines, that person decides to hide behind lawyers instead of standing up, admitting guilt and giving the community a chance to forgive.
This person doesn’t care about responsibility, but instead buckles under the pressure created from family members in denial about mistakes the person made. It’s becomes easier to blame the forum than to listen to the lesson the writer is trying to reveal.
The end result is a violation of beliefs and ethics and all that is sacred about journalism. It becomes a daily struggle for this journalist to remind herself that this is an isolated incident, and that the public as a whole respects and appreciates the job she does. Perhaps if I continue to tell myself that, someday I’ll believe it.