Stick to facts

Why is it an accepted sport for journalists to use their pens and sacrifice public officials in the name of public good?

The recent editorial “All politicians are under scrutiny” (Jan. 31) used the Bill Clinton incident as an example of a journalist’s right to scrutinize a public official. The writer claims “Regardless of whether the rumors are true, when one decides to make his living as a politician, he must be prepared to have his private life picked apart.” We do not question a reporter’s right to research a political official’s past; however, we do object to a lack of integrity. Basic journalistic principles require objectivity, credibility and accuracy. The quality of a reporter’s research should not be determined by his/her eagerness to break the story.

In addition, the writer says, “Voters have a right to know who or what they’re voting for in a presidential election.” It’s ironic that the reporter expects a voter to make a decision concerning whom or what they’re voting for when the information supplied by the media may not be accurate or truthful.

The journalist then mentions, “After all, if a candidate cannot be honest with his wife, one could question whether he would be honest while running the country.” At this point, the writer assumes that Bill Clinton had an affair and lied to his wife, though these claims have not been substantiated. Furthermore, the reporter has generalized Bill Clinton’s character on one alleged incident. Shouldn’t an editorial be an opinion based on facts, not rumors?

In the end, apparently the writer concludes that “Regardless of whether a person’s political career is ruined, journalists are not people to blame. The people, and no one else, decide if a politician’s moral character is fit to hold public office.” But how can people objectively decide on a politician’s moral character when journalists won’t accept the responsibility to present a writing based on fact, not speculation?

Now is the time for us to stop abusing our Constitutional Right of Freedom of the Press and require the media to accept the basic journalistic principles of objectivity, credibility and accuracy.

Phillip Zonkel

Journalism Major

David Bielanski

Graduate Student, History

Brendan George

Sociology Major