A Message To Future Journalists

So, you’re probably reading this Evergreen a few years in the future from its posting date. Now, you may be wondering: Why did I even bother making this article? Well, it’s not really something I usually do. I usually do international reporting, or making opinion pieces. So, what is it? Well, to cut to the chase, I think that in whatever year you’re reading this article in, journalism has become more like an afterthought in the flow of information through the internet. However interconnected and large the future Internet is, or if the world really does turn into a Corporate dystopia like Cyberpunk or Bladerunner, one thing is for certain; Journalism will remain important, no matter how underground journalism may have to go to avoid censorship. In my current year of 2023, journalism has become somewhat of a skewed image of itself. From trustworthy news anchors who lived long before I did, to the current equivalent of news anchors on television and on the Internet being sued and put in federal prison for spreading misleading, misinforming news while most of the big names in the news sphere go lightly (or not at all) punished for their wrongdoing. This has amplified the process of Yellow Journalism, which has helped create partisanship and social unrest across the nation, sometimes in favor of CEOs and businessmen in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). So, you may be wondering, if this is the case for you, why is it like this for me, and what can I do about it?

For you, things may be different or may be the same, some things never change. Bias has been a facet of human nature since the first man was born, while lying has also been something that every human has done at least once in their life (come on, we all know you have lied about something small once to your mom or parental figure). But for you, this bias and lying go far beyond simple misinformation-sometimes, it could lead to unjust violence in the name of a false idea. For example, you probably have learned about the 2021 Storming of the United States Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists, who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 American election by force. Their attempt failed, but they were only about 10 feet from breaking into the seat of the American Congress and killing (as they said) everyone inside. In fact, they were even able to break into the Chambers of the US Senate after it had been evacuated right before the riot. Now, this entire ordeal was (in my opinion) primarily fueled by the spread of misinformation and lies about the election, courtesy of Donald Trump and the Fox News organization. After the riot, Trump was nearly impeached a second time, but it was voted down in the Senate by Republicans who supported him (and who also, according to some rumors, helped participate in the rioting). The spread of misinformation, and the usage of propaganda and false rumors, helped almost overthrow the American government in its own capital city. As an aspiring journalist, you should strive to be the exact opposite of the people who tried to overthrow the government, you should strive to be concise and truthful. Fact-check all your articles, run them through several editors, and do whatever it takes to provide the most accurate information possible to your viewers, even if it takes a ridiculous amount of time to push your article into the press, do it. You can take inspiration from organizations like the Associated Press or Bellingcat, who have some of the most rigorous fact-checking of any news organization in my time and are the gold standard for unbiased, honest reporting. Bellingcat, for aspiring investigative journalists, is also someone that you should be taking inspiration from, for they have helped expose some of the most important scandals and events in my time. 

But, what can I do about corruption and misinformation myself? Well, approaches will have to vary. Misinformation and corruption in itself usually start at the top of the company with the CEOs, directors, and presenters, who are usually pushing “fake news” as it is called, for their own gain. Let’s also note for their article that you need to avoid being partisan with your investigations. Partisanship is a major issue in the news industry of 2023, and it is not isolated to the news industry either. Depending on the state of the American Supreme Court in your year, it may be an entirely political institution, but when I was growing up, it was supposed to be a bipartisan, balancing force that would choose decisions that were good for the people. However, as it is in 2023, Supreme Court Justices are often chosen for their political affiliation and support, rather than their judicial decisions or experience. In fact, many organizations simply refer to the court as a contest between “Democrat and Republican justices”, which, to someone in, say, 1980, would have been an appalling classification to make. But, this section is not meant to scare you or to make you reconsider becoming a whistleblower in the industry, it is meant to encourage you. Being a whistleblower is a very powerful thing, and, if the people believe in what you wish to report and expose, you’ll become a nigh impossible person to target and stop in their tracks. Use that momentum you build from the moment you post your exposure to the second that a decision is made on the fate of those you have reported, for if you can point that momentum in the right direction, you will be able to stop corruption. Sometimes, the best way to stop misinformation and corruption is to fight fire with fire.

In conclusion, the message I am trying to tell you today is this: Be as truthful as you can, be nonpartisan, and be a whistleblower. There are risks to being all three of those things, but take those risks and use that momentum you build to make the news industry, and the world, a nicer place, and to make the flow of information free and truthful. No matter what the future may look like for you, there will always be something you need to solve, but don’t try to be a master of everything. You can be a jack of all trades, you can be a nonpartisan whistleblower who has been elected to public office and has made their decisions with the thought of the people they represent in mind, but you will never be the master of those ideals. You may slip up, and you may not make a decision for the people, but try to avoid that. The final message I would like to say is one of my favorite quotes of all time, from former United States Marine Smedley D Butler.

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

By Shane Miller

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