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The Power of Journalism

Journalism can shape a nation. Many people vote based on what the media conveys to them about candidates, decide crucial ethical issues from information they read about in newspapers, and live their lives according to what they believe as reported by journalists. Journalism is inherently powerful, and journalists must wield that power with the utmost integrity, salted with wisdom and discretion. Journalistic power is one of the most effective creative forces at our disposal for bringing about needed change. Journalism can bring the forces of the nation to bear upon an injustice that must be righted, a situation that must be fixed, an evil that must be overthrown, or a need that must be met. A nation can be brought to its kneesùconquered or convictedùby powerful journalism. As John Oldham is quoted as saying, ôI wear my pen as others do their swordö (ôJohn Oldham Quotesö).

The ideal role of the media is a precise one that is often overstepped by overeager, dishonorable, or greedy journalists who try to manipulate journalistic power to effect their own ends. This should not be tolerated by a public hungry for truth and well acquainted with the disaster that can result from dishonorable activities. The mediaÆs real charter is to convey truth with integrity, passion, and objectivity, and to present it with sensitivity and wisdom that respects the opinions, the griefs, and the convictions of all. This is not to say that journalistic opinion pieces have no place; certainly they do. In fact, such pieces are the heart and soul of much journalistic endeavor. But journalism that purports to report the news must report the news factually, and in as unbiased a manner as possible, recognizing the influence attached to that journalism. As Bob Williams writes in his excellent essay on journalistic integrity:

Ethics form the foundation on which is built the basic social contract that has to exist between the credible journali...

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