In recent events, such as the growth of fake news and the White House banning certain media outlets from briefing, the relationship between reader and journalist has never mattered more.
The dependent relationship means that without a journalist a reader cannot receive proper information, and without an audience a journalist has no one to report to.
There must also be mutual trust between a journalist and readers and neither can violate that trust to minimize harm for the health of society.
A journalist’s job is to tell the cold hard facts about whatever they are reporting on through an objective lens, while a reader’s job is to take those facts and interpret them through a personal lens.
Facts are the building blocks for how people determine truth. Facts are the base line that readers’ opinions start from. The more facts a reader is presented with, the more informed the reader’s opinions will be.
The interpretation of facts is where the variety of reactions appear.
Opinions are neither right nor wrong; they’re just different. There must be a balance between a reader’s entitlement to personal opinions and the right that journalists foster freedom of speech when they publish news.
The ethics of reporting objectively and living their truth can often be difficult to separate for journalists. They must remember it’s not their job to form opinions for others or defend one’s truths and to not feed into any biased reactions, but rather to add to the anchoring facts that readers build their opinions from.
A journalist must remember that language can indicate one’s behavior. Words must be straightforward and free of adjectives which could relay a reporter’s bias.
For example, the word “must” has the potential to change the meaning of a single sentence: “Political candidates accept that global warming is real” versus “Political candidates must accept that global warming is real.”
Once the word “must” is added, the way the sentence was read changes from a fact to an opinionated demand, and the once news-based article now reads like an opinion piece.
If a journalist chooses to report this way, the reader could assume that they must believe or act this way also.
The reader could also question whether a journalist is leaving any facts out in order to defend a side. Sins of omission result in no room for open interpretation of all the facts.
By not declaring something ethical or immoral, a journalist is allowing room for discussion for readers.
Journalists who understand their ethical responsibility, both inside and outside the newsroom, help readers develop their own truths.
A journalist should lay out the building blocks — the cold hard facts — for a reader, and let the reader build upon them.
Creating a trustworthy relationship between reader and journalists allows for unity in the face of fake news and government exclusion of media.