By Chelsea LoCascio
Like most people, I found myself reading about the terrorism accusations surrounding innocent Ahmed Mohamed, the boy who brought a homemade digital clock — which was mistaken for a bomb — to school, last week. As I avidly scrolled the comments section of an article about it on Dallas News, I stumbled upon an anti-journalism comment that got under my skin.
In the scathing comments section, people argued relentlessly over whether or not this boy is part of a radical Islamic group, with one woman saying that Muslims were using the media to promote Islamic sympathy (these comments were very creative). She then followed with “is there no real journalism anymore???”
These vile trolls finally got to me. I respect freedom of speech, even more so because I am a journalist, but this infuriated me. So often when people are dissatisfied with a news story — they blame the journalist.
Honestly, I get it. People wonder: is this journalist biased? Were they bribed? Do they have a hidden agenda to push upon the readers? Can I trust them? Better yet: is this even a qualified journalist or one of those misinformed citizen journalists that have little or no knowledge of the journalism field?
Just like there are corrupt cops, CEOs and lawyers, there are corrupt journalists. However, there are also cops risking their lives to save others, CEOs donating millions to charities, lawyers taking pro bono cases to bring justice to the innocent and even journalists exposing the truth to an ignorant society.
Unfortunately, this is not an issue just in America. When I studied abroad in Scotland this past summer, I made the regrettable mistake of telling people I was a journalist. When the forbidden j-word slipped out, I was actually told I was “the scum of the earth.” In another instance, a cashier would not give me my change back and when I asked for it, he said, “Just like a journalist. Asking for more money.”
Where did these notions come from? Apparently, journalists are internationally known as lying, cheating, money-grubbing scum. I just wish someone told me that before I chose to love this major.
I am not looking for sympathy or pity, but rather respect. Despite people’s perceptions, this profession isn’t easy. Sure, anyone can write, but that doesn’t mean you have an inherent knack for dragging a reader in and making them stick around for the whole story. Not everyone has the patience for the thorough research required or feels comfortable risking their reputation by writing their words as facts.
As a journalist, I am clearly biased on the matter. I know what it’s like to be told I am a horrible person when all I have done is try to inform people while keeping them entertained. Journalism is not an easy feat considering everyone is always out to blame the media as a whole for stories they just don’t like, or even factual errors that are solely the responsibility of one specific news outlet.
If it was the intention — though I highly doubt it — of the Dallas News, or any other news outlet who reported on Mohamed, to promote sympathy for radical Islamic terrorism, then this is not something all of media should be blamed for. I can assure you, the media as a whole is not out to get you or brainwash wash you into believing anything over the other. We’re here to inform you because ignorance is not bliss — it’s stupidity that would lead to pandemonium.
Whether you like how a writer tells a story or not, that is up to you. Admittedly, some journalists are lazy and smudge the facts, and others may not be journalists at all, but unintelligible bloggers. But those are the exception. The real journalists, the ones that respect their readers enough to tirelessly work on writing the perfect story, deserve our admiration, not disdain.
Students share opinions around campus
“As a whole, I think journalists try their best to maintain objectivity. I don’t think I read a lot of articles that are biased.”
“I think (they cover) what’s relevant to the people. I would say sometimes bias is involved. I think you can trust (journalists)… World relations (isn’t bias). Politics and hollywood gossip are the biased parts.”