"Journalism's first loyalty is to citizens." This point, made in chapter three of Elements of Journalism, stands out as very significant. If, for instance, a reporterís loyalty lay with his bossís bossís, bossís interest, as is seen from time to time, a very big problem is created. Namely, journalistic credibility and relevance is at stake.
Case in point, going down to Louisiana for a week after Katrina was a very moving and positive experience. One memorable event occurred on the way back to Pennsylvania in hotel room. Pastor Brian, the guys, and myself were all gathered around the small television set in one of the rooms watching CNN. We watched for a few minutes and then turned it off, all of us disgusted. The topic? Who was to blame! Great, letís allow the reconstruction and search and rescue efforts to be sacrificed on the alter of politics once again! One of the guys in the group talked about this in front of the church on Sunday. ďThatís the last time Iíll be pointing fingers instead of using my feet,Ē he said. I couldnít agree more.
Johanna Dreyfuss points this out well in her blog writing, ďFor instance, from what I observed of the Hurricane Katrina coverage, I felt that an overwhelming majority of it focused on attacking or defending a particular political slant. Now, while discussing the politics involved in the disaster is certainly important and newsworthy, I felt that it really overshadowed some of the other stories that should have been covered more. For instance, this story on foreign aid appeared seven stories below a story regarding the political "blame game." I couldnít have said it better Johanna.