We the Horizon: Editorial staff coments on journalistic ethics and foundational values
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In recent weeks, journalism itself has become a headline. The terror attacks on Parisian magazine Charlie Hebdo and allegations of unprofessionalism at the Santa Barbara News-Press have both sparked discussions about journalistic ethics. Attacks on news sources rightfully bring up discussion about free speech and freedom of the press. However, they also bring up questions of journalistic integrity, intent and responsibility. We, the editorial staff of The Horizon, would like to take the opportunity to address our own position and values as a news source.
First and foremost, we must state that freedom of speech is an inalienable human right, and any attack on that right must be condemned. We stand by our colleagues in the field of journalism in condemnation of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, and mourn with the journalistic community on this tragic loss.
However, many public figures, including Pope Francis and President Beebe, have commented on the unnecessarily offensive nature of Charlie Hebdo’s regular content, and are asking tough questions about the responsibility that comes with the inalienable right to free speech. It is this very responsibility that makes the right itself so valuable.
These tough questions have drifted closer to home with the controversy surrounding the Santa Barbara News-Press’ usage of the term “illegals” in a recent headline, despite its violation of the Associated Press style (for coverage of these events, please turn to the News section of this issue).
While planning each issue, our editorial staff focuses on one foundational question: “What do we have the responsibility to promote discussion about on campus?” We take responsible journalism seriously, both in terms of which topics we choose to cover and how we conduct our reporting.
We aim to represent all kinds of diversity present within the student body, including racial and ethnic diversity, diversity of sexual preference and gender identification, and ideological diversity (to name a few). We value and seek out diversity so that The Horizon may be a representative of all voices on campus, not only of the majority or of a vocal, monopolizing few.
This standpoint rests on the idea that we are a mouthpiece for the entire student body. The Horizon is the medium through which students can voice opinions and receive news that relates to their lives.
As such, we must also be aware of how we report the news. As a newspaper that operates on an ethical basis, we aim to publish quality material that presents facts in an unbiased fashion. News should be accessible and available to all students, instead of feeling exclusive or directed only to certain groups of students. Our goal is to represent the diverse views on campus and avoid sensationalism. To do otherwise would undermine our own credibility.
Regarding headlines, we as a staff agree that they should promote conversation rather than incite sensationalism or relay a bias. Because of this, we choose to follow the Associated Press style as specified by our journalistic colleagues. Specifically, we will not use the term “illegals” to describe persons of undocumented status outside of the Op-Ed section.
Our responsibility as a staff is to the student body to whom we report, and because of this, we always welcome criticism. We are a paper by students and for students, first and foremost. That means every student has the opportunity to participate, most readily through the Op-Ed pages, which are continuously open to guest writers and guest pieces.
We look forward to hearing from you!