Where are the Journalists?

By: Gabriela Yareliz

“It’s the business in general that bothers me. It’s beyond a disgrace, and I don’t know what the proper word is to describe the mainstream news business now. It’s terrible; absolutely terrible. It’s pure propaganda.”

Greg (was a writer, editor and producer for CNN and print reporter for Reuters– left the business 18 years ago).

This week, I was listening to a talk morning show from right here in NYC. A former journalist called in. His comment was right on point. I am not someone who was a part of the business 18 years ago, but nine years ago, I graduated journalism school and then went to law school.

When I look at the principles we were taught at the journalism school, it is worlds away from what we see now.

So much of what is now mainstream was unacceptable. I would dare argue, it still is unacceptable. When I went to school, these behaviors classified you as a commentator spewing out your own opinion– you were not a journalist.

A journalist spoke truth. My reporting professor always semi-joked, “If your mother tells you she loves you, you better investigate that and make sure you have solid unbiased evidence to back that up.” You never take someone’s word for it. Your job was to unveil the truth and give it to the public with precise simplicity. It was about making truth accessible. We were taught to dig through trash cans and review receipts and scribbled notes and to never underestimate the power of reading a document upside down from across a table or through a nearby reflection. We were to insist everything was on the record. That’s why we were there. You didn’t betray a source. Ethics was a required course. So was Media Law.

They taught us how to investigate legally and with compassion around tragedies. We were taught to find just about anything. I always try to use my powers for good. We were taught to guard our minds and avoid the appearance of impropriety, which meant not registering with a political party if you could help it. To receive things and not stop there– and dig, dig, dig. Objectivity for humans personally may be impossible but the delivery of truth is not.

The networks that used to have journalists who would bring on a variety of guests are filled with weak commentators only interested in pushing a narrative that has been vomited from another unreliable source. What we have seen are not guardians of truth, democracy and freedom but puppets with no character or spine. They don’t ask hard questions and reframe if they are met with a refusal. What we have are people who facilitate messaging. We have people who want to tell us that what we are seeing with our own eyes is not true. It’s like we are in Room 101 being educated in doublethink.

“Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what George Orwell called the ‘official truth’. They simply cipher and transmit lies. It really grieves me that so many of my fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as ‘functionaires’, functionaries, not journalists. Many journalists become very defensive when you suggest to them that they are anything but impartial and objective. The problem with those words ‘impartiality’ and ‘objectivity’ is that they have lost their dictionary meaning. They’ve been taken over… [they] now mean the establishment point of view… Journalists don’t sit down and think, ‘I’m now going to speak for the establishment.’ Of course not. But they internalise a whole set of assumptions, and one of the most potent assumptions is that the world should be seen in terms of its usefulness to the West, not humanity.”

John Pilger

But make no mistake, this doesn’t mean journalism is dead. What I have noticed as I search for people who actually investigate and put their lives on the line for truth is that they can be found on smaller websites/platforms that were previously ignored. Real journalists are shaping their field by voicing their investigations and sharing truth where they can.

The amount of journalists I have seen get censored, deleted and cut off from mainstream tv, print and social media has been astounding. It goes against everything we were taught. Everything we literally stand for. These are people on the ground, risking everything (often including their lives), not comfortably crying or being snarky in an air conditioned studio with hair and makeup ready to come on during commercial breaks.

Today, real journalists are less visible, but they are still there, digging and sharing. In this world where truth is a safeguard, many have been given shovels, but few are willing to get their hands dirty to find the gold. Thank you to all the ones out there who are documenting and sharing truth. You are rare, but you are the standard.

“Always go too far because that’s where you will find the truth.”

Unknown (some attribute this to Albert Camus, but prob not)

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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