Bullet proof stories & force for good, L.A. Times editor-in-chief Davan Maharaj discusses journalism

By Loydie Burmah |Staff Writer| 

Editor-in-chief and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Davan Maharaj, led a discussion on the importance of accuracy and fairness in journalism, utilizing storytelling to enact positive change, and accessing veritable information at CSUSB on Feb. 9.

“We want to help in the development of young storytellers like you,” said Maharaj.

He also mentioned that the L.A. Times intends on maintaining a relationship with CSUSB to share resources and services with not only student journalists but the San Bernardino community as well.

“We also want to make sure that we just don’t write about the community, we make an investment in the community,” continued Maharaj.

Kyle Finck, L.A.Times High School Insider Project Lead, was also participated in the discussion. Finck serves as a liaison between CSUSB and the Times.

“It is crucial for young journalists to always delve into the question of why something is happening, why someone is saying something, and why the world works the way it does,” stated Finck.

The discussion began with Maharaj recalling his first experience as a cub reporter for the Trinidad Express in his native country of Trinidad.

His first published piece influenced reformative action for San Fernando wharf fishermen facing storage facility issues.

“By just reporting a story, and exposing a truth, I was able to get a positive action, for many of these fishermen,” said Maharaj.

If the story was never written, he believed that those fishermen would have never received the necessary assistance needed.

“Not only can you change people’s lives, and use words and facts as a force for good, but you can educate people,” said Maharaj.

Maharaj noted that unlike other professions, journalism offers a “passport into people’s lives.”

Professional journalism requires storytellers interested in discerning truths, reality and deception with factual research and information to share with others in order to provoke reform.

“As an educated citizen I think your responsibility is to ascertain what is the truth […] That should help form your opinion, your belief system, and then you decide what your actions will be based on that,” said Dr. Terry L. Ballman, Dean of College for Arts and Letters.

Audience members asked questions regarding how journalists should engage in credible, accurate reporting during the current political reformations occurring under President Donald Trump and his administration.

Questions were also asked about how readers can become more vigilant in finding truthful, factual information amidst “alternative facts” and “fake news.”

“I think it is really concerning that a lot of people […] don’t know the difference between where they can find fake news, and where they can find real news,” commented Coyote Radio Director Lacey Kendall.

Kendall then asked Maharaj how the Times “retort to their public” amidst uncertainty and deception, ultimately ensuring them that the publication is indeed trustworthy.

“How do you as a newspaper, retort to your publics, and say, “we’re real”?” asked Kendall.

Maharaj responded that it “takes all of us,” meaning academia, citizens, neighbors, friends and journalists to educate and provide each other with veritable sources for information. This challenge cannot be completed by solely journalists alone.

“This is a great time to be a journalist. Because if you believe in truth, if you believe in exposing lies, and if you believe in standing up for readers, there is no better time now, than this environment,” said Maharaj.

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