As a journalist, I believe that the job of a newspaper is to hold up a mirror to the world, to show the readers a reflection of life as it is occurring. The goal is to reveal everything about society, both good and bad, without commentary. Thus, the newspaper becomes an image of a moment in time. Each day is another moment. And, as the moments pass, they are part of an historical record. Thus, journalists are the recorders of a living history.
Sometimes, we don’t like the image that we see in the mirror. We insist that it’s not us, that it can’t be us. That image is distorted. Too fat, too short, too something that isn’t us. We are not that thing that you presented.
You showed us looking like a funhouse mirror that distorts. It’s fake. Fake news, fake image. Too much revealed, and it’s unflattering.
Some of the articles that I’ve written show us at our worst. Part of what I do is to reveal the dangers lurking in our communities. Among other things, I’ve written about domestic violence and an industry polluting entire neighborhoods with carcinogens. But it’s not all bad.
The image that I was able to present was of people and organizations working to support victims of domestic violence, to help them find safety. In the other article, the image revealed was of a shocking lack of concern for safety on the part of the industry involved. But, once again, there were people and a grassroots organization involved to make a difference.
I’ve written stories about cancer survivors and about their caregivers. The images revealed portrayed people at their best: a ten-year-old girl giving solace and help to her best friend, her eight-year-old sister; a five year old boy who comforted his mother after she was informed of his cancer diagnosis; a mother and daughter who took care of each other when they both had cancer (not at the same time).
These are the stories of us that journalists share. They are the mirror that they hold up to us. It is through our acts of kindness that the mirror image changes. We have the power to change the image of us that the mirror displays. And then we can see revealed before us bright shining rays of hope. A snapshot of a moment in time. Not distorted. Not fake. Just us.