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What has journalism become?

When I was fourteen years old, I took my first journalism class, and instantly fell in love. I had always had a passion and joy for writing. But journalism was something that seemed to come so naturally. I loved chasing for answers, asking the hard questions, and working on something until I saw it complete. I still have this love for journalism, it has been with me for the past five years, but as I have grown as a reporter and journalist, I feel ashamed to see how the community has changed over the past years.

The idea that news channels, newspapers, and even journalists put their own spin on their stories is so against the first thing I learned in my 21st Century Journalism Class. I sat in front of a slideshow, watching my teacher explain that “When you write a story, you do not exist. You are simply telling the story, and your reader decides to think what they want.” 

For weeks and weeks we were drilled on how to write transitions and ledes that didn’t contain any opinions or any bias. We focused on using unbiased data, using the government sites, trusting the experts, looking for proof, and if you find information that rebukes what you’re stating, investigate it. By the time I was fifteen this was drilled into my head when I first started writing for my high school newspaper. As the journalist, you do not exist in your story. There is no narrative you are trying to push. You are simply laying out the information and letting your reader decide for themself.

However, now when I go to watch the news, read an online article, anything by the major news outlets, everything has some sort of bias. The information is skewed to fit their narrative. Both sides are guilty of this, the left and right. But this isn’t what journalism is supposed to be.

There is no reason for the viewers and readers across the nation to have to ‘fact check’ the news stations. The fact that there are people out there saying, “oh you can’t trust…” should be proof enough that there is something wrong with how journalism interacts in our society today. 

Society should be able to look to our news stations and have some semblance of trust. Trust that the news anchors aren’t hiding the news, that reporters aren’t keeping only part of the quotes, and that photographers aren’t cropping their photos to fit their narrative. Society should always hold skepticism, but at the level it is today, it’s tearing the nation apart. 

If we cannot trust the news, who can we trust? Journalists are supposed to be the bridge between the public and the truth. It is our job to not exist in our stories, it is our job to set our opinions aside, and let society decide for itself, what they want to believe. Journalism is more than clickbait, constant fear, and fitting a narrative. All journalism should be is laying out the truth and letting those who read it decide what it means for themselves.

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