Defending one#039;s honor over news coverage
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Recently, I had a public official question my ethics in public.
Of course, when he and I are chatting one-on-one, he is the nicest fellow.
However, like many, give him an audience and he loses all sense of being a gentleman.
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I thought about just letting this slide without comment, but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me.
I live my professional life by The Journalist's Creed.
I'm unwavering on it for two reasons. One, my name is my father's name.
To do anything to bring dishonor to it would be wrong.
Two, I enjoy being able to sleep at night, and trust me, I've never lost a night's sleep over something I wrote.
Facts are checked and rechecked.
So what is The Journalist’s Creed? Well it was written by the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams over a century ago.
To this day, his words remain the clearest about the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world.
Journalist's Creed is as follows:
"I believe in the profession of journalism.
"I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.
"I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.
"I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.
"I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.
"I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.
"I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.
"I believe that the journalism which succeeds best — and best deserves success — fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world."
At the end of my life, I want to be able to say that I carried the legacy of The Greenville Advocate with honor, dignity and integrity.
If I didn't hold myself to these standards, I would be the first to say goodbye.
I just wish that my elected pal lived under the same standards.
Jay Thomas is the managing editor of The Greenville Advocate and can reached at 383-9302, ext. 136, via email at jay.thomas@ greenvilleadvocate.com or mail at P.O. Box 507, Greenville, 36037.