Globe’s Point: Ethics in journalism goes beyond what’s on paper

We are living in an era where public skepticism of journalism increases daily. Every time there is a new scandal publicized about a newsroom, there are more people who become doubtful of journalism as a whole. That is not to say these incidents should not be reported – because they should – journalists themselves must be transparent about what they do and when violations occur. However, journalists should know from this fact that their credibility is everything, not only to their individual reputations, but the public’s perception of the whole industry.

According to a Gallup poll from 2021, only 36% of Americans say that they have “a great deal or fair amount of trust” in the media. That number is dangerously low. A free press that people rely upon for a basic understanding of truth and our current society is fundamental to our democracy functioning correctly.

A lot of the skepticism of the media, especially after the 2016 election cycle, comes from the nation’s partisan-driven, uncompromising politics, which have steadily worsened over the last few decades. Certain politicians have stoked the flames of the anti-media fire, and that fire only continues to grow. This has led to a few things: a growing distrust of media on the far right and left, and also a mentality that the media can do no wrong among certain individuals, both in the sphere of journalism and otherwise.

In order for the free press to continue to thrive, journalists must be willing to hold themselves accountable. Your actions as a journalist go beyond what you write in an article or say on the news. Every action that a journalist takes, both public and private, can come back to affect their credibility.

Chris Cuomo, who was a primetime anchor, was recently fired from CNN because he had previously advised his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo, amid sexual misconduct allegations. It is our opinion that this firing was justified. A journalist advising someone on how to deal with the media during a scandal is not only a blatant conflict of interest and violation of journalistic ethics, but an indictment of who Chris Cuomo is as an individual (Not to mention his previous brother-to-brother segments with Andrew Cuomo that aired on the network at the beginning of the pandemic, which were conflicts of interest).

That, ultimately, is what it all comes down to: who you are as an individual. Every journalist, whether they’re a Buzzfeed blogger, an MSNBC correspondent, a local news meteorologist, or a New Yorker editorial writer, is an individual. Individuals can make mistakes, and the organizations that individuals represent can also make mistakes. These organizations can even be blatantly wrong. But that does not mean that journalism itself is wrong.

Journalists must acknowledge the role that they play in society goes beyond their works. If the industry is flawed, it is our job at The Globe to reform it, at least on the small scale that we can. If the industry is broken, then it is our job to rebuild it. And most importantly, if the industry has a story, then it is our job to report it.