The value of ethical journalism



Helen Heaton

Across the country, journalism is under attack, especially as politicians deride the press and its mission. While we are not professional journalists, as members of The Oracle, we do our best to maintain high journalistic standards and support the value of a free press.

As members of a democratic society, it is vitally important that there are sources outside the government disseminating information so we can form our own ideas about news events and policies. After all, those who read “1984” as sophomores will well realize the power to undermine the truth that accompanies complete control of the media.

Admittedly, every private news organization has a bias, but that is why reading a multitude of sources is so important; by observing the whole, we can come to an informed conclusion.

For its part, The Oracle tries to provide its readers with an informed and factual source of information. If you are curious, here are some of our rules: never fabricate quotes, don’t “make” news, and don’t publish anonymous sources. Even if we publish an article discussing a topic as non-controversial as the AP scholar breakfast–as we do in this issue–we want to be able to stand behind its integrity.

Have we made mistakes in the past? Yes–we are admittedly students. But we continuously strive to uphold journalistic standards to the best of our ability as staff members. Further, we continue to publish our stories for the same reason that the public should continue to read the news, despite the proliferation of false reports: because information is valuable.

On a school level, our reporting doesn’t have high stakes–our democracy is not at risk if no one spreads the news about the girls’ cross-country team winning states. But as a community, there is certainly value in knowing what is going on. By reporting on new teachers and clubs, we try to keep you informed about what is happening around you. And by reporting various student successes, we try to do our part in bringing the school community together. Maybe only a few people knew that the peer tutors were presenting at a national conference, but hopefully after this issue is published, it will be wider knowledge. When we’re all “in the know,” we are better able to support and celebrate one another.

It is only through ethical journalism that we can, as a nation and as a school, determine the truth and make informed decisions about the future of our country.