Committed to the truth

  • Man of integrity: Shepard Smith decided to leave his position at Fox News rather than continue amid an atmosphere of political bias (File photograph by Richard Drew/AP)

    Man of integrity: Shepard Smith decided to leave his position at Fox News rather than continue amid an atmosphere of political bias (File photograph by Richard Drew/AP)

Modern technology in today’s world has allowed a brighter light to be cast on some of the evil deeds that years ago would be lost in the shadows of shameful acts by those who thrive on crushing others at any cost in the quest for power.

It is a testing time for journalists around the world who remain committed to seeking truth, even at great personal risk.

Watching reporters amid chaotic scenes on the nightly news has become so routine that there is a tendency to become almost immune to the grim reality that they, too, could fall victim to violence in trying to uncover truth, which is their professional mandate.

Brave men and women of this profession do not place themselves in danger for the sake of personal glory. They do this because they are committed to truth.

Sometimes it can be a thankless task because there are always those even in high positions of authority who resent journalists that dare to question how they conduct what should be the people’s business.

This is a problem in practically every country, large and small.

I recall during the early stages of my journalism career having been assigned to cover a public meeting in what used to be Trinity Hall on Cedar Avenue.

As I entered the room, I was told by one of the officials on stage that I would not be allowed to attend the meeting as a reporter for The Royal Gazette.

Before I could move, another person connected with the meeting quickly interjected that as it was billed as a public meeting, the press had every right to cover it, and that I was simply doing my job. Nothing more was said on the issue.

In a society where racial sensitivity is understandably high owing to a history of social injustice, for the journalists it would always be a testing time in trying to place journalism ethics ahead of any personal leanings for one group or the other.

Yet that is exactly what journalists are required to do if they are truly committed to truth.

It is never an easy task, but most journalists know straying from that golden rule could lead to a loss of credibility.

E.T. Sayer, the late Editor of The Royal Gazette, strolled in one morning as I sat at my desk, and I heard him clearly direct the duty editor to have a reporter in traffic court that day because he was up on a traffic offence and wanted to be covered like everyone else.

The message was clear: the free press may not be perfect, but journalism demands truth should always be placed above emotions or status.

Without a doubt, Bermuda has made considerable progress over the years in merging different viewpoints on how best to move the island forward.

Much is still needed to reduce the stigma of racial and political divisiveness, which remains very much a challenge for all Bermudians.

The road ahead probably will get bumpy at times, with people deeply entrenched in support for this or that group.

What should matter most is not prestige or status, but a desire to work in a more bipartisan spirit in trying to solve lingering problems in our society.

Recently in the United States, a veteran news anchor quit his job on the air after declaring the station had drifted away from journalistic ethics in reporting the present state of political affairs in the country.

Shepard Smith, formerly of Fox News, said it was his hope that truth would always win at the end of the day. It was a bold move that won praise from journalists throughout the country.

There is nothing wrong with people having an allegiance to a particular political group; that is expected in a democracy.

However, leaders of any group should not only invite questions on any issue, but should be willing to discuss differing opinion, no matter how sensitive. This is the way to build trust.

Trust has to be earned, even in the political arena. It cannot be achieved without give and take from both sides.

Journalists will always have a role to play in keeping truth out front in all that is done for Bermuda and its people, with the ultimate objective of being committed to truth.

The future can be brighter with truth as a vital ingredient.

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Published Oct 19, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 18, 2019 at 11:31 pm)

Committed to the truth

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