The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

86° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Editorial: Journalism’s first duty is to readers, accuracy”

Newspapers in America are supposed to print the truth. It would be irresponsible to allow inaccuracies, libel and illogical reasoning to be printed merely because it is someone’s opinion.

A newspaper’s first duty should always be to distribute accurate information to its readers. Even in the opinions section, newspaper editors have an obligation to ensure that information columnists base their opinions on is properly attributed and accurate.

Many people accuse media outlets, including the Arizona Daily Wildcat, of being “”liberal leftists”” who explicitly try to shut out the conservative voice. However, the only people who have applied for columnist positions have been liberal or Democratic types. There has been a push this semester to seek out conservative voices and have a more balanced and evocative desk. If this describes you, please write a letter to the editor or apply to be a columnist.

But first, know that working at a newspaper means that you must respect your fellow employees and all of their ideas, no matter how different they are. Also, know that if you present a fact or an idea, it must be well-founded and data should come from a credible third-party source. Even in an opinions column, the reporting must be provably factual. Employees must be held accountable for their work, and readers should be able to expect that any claims made in a column can be supported by legitimate sources.

Writers are hired to make justified, truthful statements in columns, and support assertions with well thought-out examples. Even though they do not follow the same tradition of objectivity that straight news reporters write, they are held to similar standards of fairness. Opinions writers are required to be fair and reasonable in their assessments. It is stated specifically in the Wildcat Resource Manual (which all Wildcat employees are expected to read before signing a written agreement to uphold the policies of the Wildcat) that employees are not to make libelous or untruthful statements, or engage in hate speech.

The opinions editor is hired to edit work for inaccuracies, fallacious and/or illogical reasoning. It is at the discretion of Wildcat editors to select content for the newspaper, or to choose to hold content that is not fit to print. Editors cannot print content in good conscience if they do not feel 100 percent certain that the reporting is fair. All Daily Wildcat employees are required to keep consistent, professional communication with their respective editor.

Furthermore, the Daily Wildcat is also a business, and, as such, has a chain of command to submit grievances. Students should take note because this is common in every business.

Staff members are expected to communicate with their editor or supervisor first and foremost. If they continue to feel aggrieved, they should immediately consult the next supervisor, the editor in chief or the Student Media adviser. Bypassing these resources isn’t helpful to anyone, and only furthers a problem. It doesn’t solve one.

The Daily Wildcat, like all newspapers, is a place of public discourse. All different views and perspectives are welcome, and it is a place for such ideas to reach thousands of people each day. But there is no guaranteed space for information that is misleading, incorrect or inflammatory. That is not censoring a writer. That is not an abridgement of his First Amendment rights, or a limitation on his exercise of free speech. It’s responsible editing.

As journalists and citizens, we revere the right to free speech. It should be supported and nourished through constant conversation and use.

However, as the Supreme Court has shown, not all speech is protected. The First Amendment does not provide for a separate “”opinion”” privilege.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Ken Contrata, Michelle A. Monroe and Heather Price-Wright. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

More to Discover
Activate Search