One of the tenets of journalism, which I learned while earning a degree in that study from the University of Texas, is truth takes precedent over opinion. As information dissemination evolves from the evening newscast of your childhood, to the 24-hour availability of CNN and cable channels, to today’s instantaneous Internet commentaries, there is great risk that truth becomes distorted.
Unlimited access to free information is a gift, not an inherent right. The ability to have the world at your fingertips endangers the long-term viability of news gathering operations. As more and more newspapers – and perhaps someday broadcast entities – go out of business, it begs the question, “What happens when there’s no money to fund investigative reporting?” So, as you rejoice in the speed at which news travels the globe and the power at your fingertips to quickly post thought pieces on your blog, remember somewhere down the road there could come a time when the journalists who identify the seeds of stories become extinct due to a lack of resources.
On the Main Building at UT, there is this engraving from the Gospel of John: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Walter Cronkite saw those words when he matriculated there years before becoming “the most trusted man in America” as the longtime anchor of the CBS Evening News. If media outlets struggle to survive in the coming years, those left to provide information to the great unwashed need to step up their journalistic integrity while eliminating bias and opinion from their vocabularies. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea what the truth is and who you should trust.