By Essence Dennis |Staff Writer|
SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT. MINIMIZE HARM. ACT INDEPENDENTLY. BE ACCOUNTABLE.
These very rules are what keep journalists held accountable for their actions.
They are not meant to lie and deceive the public, like journalist Brian Williams is under fire for doing.
For a whopping 12 years Williams reported a lie about his news team being shot down, in a helicopter called ‘Chinook’ in Iraq, by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) according to Rolling Stone magazine.
His lie led the people to believe that the helicopter he was flying in was “crippled” by the RPG.
Different stories about what actually happened that day have surfaced. For instance, Rolling Stone magazine reports the pilot
flying the actual helicopter hit by the RPG wrote on his Facebook that “Williams and his camera team didn’t show up until an hour later.”
According to Rolling Stone magazine, Williams has been “suspended without pay for six months.”
Since there are a number of people behind Williams that keep the production running, Williams is the face of the entire operation and can not simply state he did not write up the report.
It would throw the entire NBC operation in shambles, ruining their credibility.
What I believe is another reason Williams
did not report that he did not write up the story would be the fact that he did not want to look like Peter Arnett, a former broadcast journalist for CNN in 1998.
A story came out,
“The Valley of Death”, that dealt with Operation Tailwind, a covert invasion conducted during the Vietnam War.
Secrets came out and
everyone that was involved in reporting a lie about the story was fired, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
What scorched Arnett’s reputation fully, in my opinion, was him claiming that he
supplied “not one comma” to the script.
When you do not accept responsibility for your own mistakes, lies, or mishaps, you are a coward, which is how I view Arnett.
Although Williams ignored the golden rules of being a good journalist, he dealt with his lie and is trying to save face by keeping quiet, and I respect that.
Many journalists get caught in small lies and mishaps all the time. Williams’ ‘mishap’ just so happened to cost NBC roughly 700,000 viewers according to the New York Post.
It should be common sense to trust your news outlet to report the truth. There are multiple instances where organizations have reported lies or tweaked the truth simply for a more interesting story.
journalistic integrity be something people automatically presume they are getting when listening to a journalist?
We, as journalists, are taught to uphold the highest standards of media, to report the truth and to educate the people. It is also our job to hold accountable reporters like Williams and Arnett whose lies may diminish the credibility of other journalists.
If more people actively engage in the news and practice media literacy, dishonest journalists would not stand a chance.