The 21st Century Journalist’s Creed
A former newspaper editor urges journalists to ‘let go of the sense that we have control and recognize how much better public service journalism can be when we accept the public as true partners.’
That summer I had graduated from the University of Oregon and would spend those next 40 years in journalism, working for just two newspapers. I left The Kansas City Star as city editor in 1978 and spent the next 30 years at The Seattle Times, 20 of them as executive editor. I worked with amazingly talented journalists and for principled owners dedicated to public service journalism. When I retired in 2008, I could not have asked for a more fulfilling career.
Today, the words “the world is watching”—uttered from the streets of Iran and by President Obama—convey a wholly different sense of the instantaneous global reach of news reports and the multitude of ways that information is collected and delivered. Consider how the world watched Neda Agha Soltan, a 26-year-old music student, die in Tehran this summer. Independent news organizations were prohibited from being in the streets, but two amateur videos—one 37 seconds long and the other 15 seconds—put a tragically beautiful face on the story of post-election protests that the Iranian government sought to suppress. Try as it might, the government couldn’t block transmission of images from mobile phone cameras, e-mails, and social networking sites.