Advocacy: Really not journalism’s thing.
Danny Fisher / Editor-in-Chief
If you ever need an example of why journalism is valuable, read (or watch) Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” series. Every aspect of media within her fictional world, Panem, is designed to influence people to think a certain way. Leaders, commentators, and reporters alike carefully construct announcements and “reports,” in order to control masses of subservient citizens. No media on either side of a revolution against the Capitol, which for years has been selecting child representatives of each district in the nation to send into an arena to fight to their deaths, is presented with the sole intention of informing people.
In Panem, it is the absence of accurate, unbiased information that holds the entire population captive. Without knowledge, they are unable to rebel against leaders who have only their own best interests at heart. When a rebellion begins, they too restrict access to unbiased information, only releasing propaganda for their cause. This results in a successful campaign, but also a continuation of the captivity the rebels had lived in for generations.
Unfortunately, though we live in a country that was founded on the values of freedom of speech and of the press, there are individuals who misunderstand the significance and purpose of news media.
On Nov. 18, reporters were banned from a sit-in in solidarity with the students at the University of Missouri at Northampton’s Smith College Center that drew several hundred protesters. Alyssa Mata-Flores, a student and one of the protest’s organizers, asked that any journalists who wanted to cover the event participate in the sit-in and “articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color.”
In case the flaw with this logic is unclear, let me articulate that the role of news media in the real world is to be as unlike the media in Panem as possible… So advocacy: really not our thing.
The reason behind our ethical responsibility to be impartial in our writing is simple; without access to accurate, unbiased writing, people are limited in their ability to understand the things that are going on around them and make decisions to act in their best interest. To take away access to information is one of the surest ways to leave people defenseless.
If a cause is just, honest journalism will not represent it as otherwise, because it is not our role to lead readers to a conclusion in journalistic writing. It is only our duty to give people the tools they need to come to their own conclusion. We do not advocate because this is not Panem, and we should never disarm the public in such a manner as Collins illustrates.