Journalism is a tango of sorts. Beautiful when danced to perfection, painful to look at when danced out of sync. In this analogy the writer pulls the reader in like dancers pull the judges into the story told by their movements.
Like any well-performed tango the communication between reader and writer is often subliminal, dependent upon the journalists ability to appeal to reader’s interests and stay true to their ethics as a writer. Each reader has specific passions that a journalist has an obligation to report on. But that doesn’t mean that journalists have to ignore their own passions. For every journalist’s fascination there are thousands of readers willing and able to voraciously eat up every word. A journalist who writes fairly and produces good work will always have an audience full of hungry readers. However, when a reader discovers their source for news has been feeding them false information, that their trust has been abused; their confidence in any news source is brutally shredded. The bond between reader and writer is just that delicate.
In keeping with the analogy of the tango, there are those who spew false or intentionally misleading information and when the judges (in this case the public) criticize these “news” organizations, they proceed to throw temper tantrums about the ridiculousness of the criticism. In a sense these news organizations are the couple backstage at a dance competition crying and whining about how unfair the judges were rather than owning up to their errors and attempting to rectify them. News isn’t credible because of how loud it’s proclaimed or by how many people its bias appeals to. News is only credible when the audience is presented with the facts, and only the facts, in such a way that they are able to make up their own mind, anything else is brainwashing plain and simple. Unfortunately many people now associate the once shining reputation of journalism with the Bill O’Reillys of the world because they have a platform from which they can scream hate and inaccuracy without suffering the consequences a normal journalist would.
That being said, there are times, like in any good dance, where a single misstep can ruin an otherwise perfect execution. Sources act as the partner in the journalistic tango and sometimes their error can destroy the entire story, even though the journalist had no intention of deceiving his or her audience. Famous cases of journalistic error due to source error run roughshod over the otherwise flawless history of journalism. Sources of information are sometimes inaccurate, they almost always deviate from one another and opponents can easily manipulate their credibility if their past is not flawless. This is why journalists have a duty to continuously pursue the truth. A journalist, like any dancer, must err on the side of caution, always expecting their partner’s error, preparing for it in hopes of rectifying it before it ruins the dance.