EDITORIAL: We have a job to do, it’s not to promote you

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Journalists are not your press agents. 

Outside of commentary, your average working journalist is there to seek truth and report it. 

With the rise of misinformation and lack of trust in mainstream media, the Viewpoints Editorial Board feels the need to clarify its mission. 

We are not here to serve as public relations for the college, community or any other entity. 

We are neither self-serving or imposing our bias through our content and we are here to inform rather than to steer our readers’ beliefs. The goal of objectivity does not make us robots. We all have our own perspectives and ideas.

It is important to separate the field of public relations from journalism and clearly define what each practice entails, but also how PR can be harmful to journalism.

PR, by definition, is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics,” according to the Public Relations Society of America. 

While we strive to maintain beneficial relationships with our sources, we also hold them accountable. 

We are not interested in any publicity to make our program look good because we emphasize maintaining our credibility above all else. Image and reputation need to be a secondary concern, and producing quality, factual journalism must come first.

The work of journalists can often be overshadowed by a number of factors, but we need to maintain the integrity of what it means to be a reporter. 

Relationship building, influencing and engaging with the public beyond what’s necessary to do our job does not allow for our readers to form their opinions on their own. We are not here to create a favorable or unfavorable image for anyone or anything we write about. 

One of our advisers has frequently repeated the phrase, “no rooting in the press box,” regardless of what the story is about. The phrase is not uttered without mention of our credibility in the same breath. 

Why is that? The answer goes beyond and is not limited to conflict of interest. 

Much of our job is to be objective and remove all personal biases. We have had to make the unfortunate decision to pull stories from publishing due to the relationship between the reporter and the story or the sources. 

It isn’t easy to remove yourself from all situations and while there is a time and a place for that —— for example, a public safety crisis, racism or abandoning your own principles. 

Journalists often work within the gray areas. Coverage of the Israel and Gaza war is a good example of many dealing in the black and white. We look for the nuance and have to navigate that. 

Larger news outlets play a massive role and have just as much of an influence on the public’s perception of news media as public relations. 

Well-established media must be more responsible.

There are not many pats on the backs in this business.

Awards and recognition are nice. There is a place for criticism, commentary and columns. But our main focus is to serve the public.

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