Al Seymour

A new age for journalism

  • Tough questions: CNNís Jim Acosta speaks to journalists on the North Lawn upon returning to the White House in November, 2018 after his credentials were removed (Photograph by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The never-ending, cyber-space stampede of information sweeping across our planet daily has created new challenges for journalists around the world. The basic principles of this profession remain the same, but the task of seeking truth is often like trying to find a diamond in a pool of muddy water.

Seeking truth these days for journalists means having the ability to wade through gossip, speculation and often official statements that are designed to mislead.

With the speed of information being transmitted 24/7, false data could be presented as factual, causing confusion and doubt even after truth is eventually exposed.

People generally believe first reports before waiting to determine whether there could be more to a story.

This is why most leading news agencies are quick to point out when covering a developing story that they are not in possession of details and can relate only what they know to be factual.

While that is the responsible approach by good journalists, there will always be other sources willing to go with rumour for sensational purposes, to be first with a report whether it is true or false.

Competitive journalism is healthy, but hidden dangers exist when truth is pushed aside in the process.

Journalism practised according to basic rules is a respectable profession. The objective is to gather truth and present it as clear and concise as possible without bias.

No profession is perfect and errors occur occasionally, with most in the profession willing to accept responsibility.

Globally in the political arena, too often journalists are viewed as troublemakers should they expose something that puts one group or another in the spotlight for falling short in serving the people. Depending on the country, journalists could be placing their lives in danger, and indeed many have lost their lives in pursuit of truth.

There are countless major developments taking place around the world, providing a significant test for journalism in attempts to keep truth out front for the people.

In any democracy, it is good to be well informed before stepping into a voting booth. The free press must remain free from intimidation from governments or any source that attempts to demean efforts to get at the truth.

Suppression of truth is the real enemy of the people, rather than the free press, as once referred to by the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Journalists should never be put off by those who resent them for seeking out truth, even when it holds the potential to blemish those in leadership positions.

The job of the journalist is not to be a judge or jury, but to gather and present facts for the people to decide whether they are being served truthfully.

These days, it takes only seconds to spread news that could be false.

Good journalists know that it will take longer to gather truth and, that no matter how long it takes, it will be better to present truth instead of being first with inaccuracies.

There are challenging situations in many countries around the world, with people begging for the truth to be told. Even in our lovely Bermuda, people should never take anything for granted.

We have problems that often can be quite sensitive, with strong views for and against an issue. Even under those circumstances, journalism must continue to probe for truth.

While the task of journalism will never be easy, it remains a great pillar for keeping democracy alive.