This is one of the more difficult things I need to write, but it needs to be done to clear up some of the misconceptions of articles that have been written last year.
My aunt Shailagh Jarrett, was a famous freelance reporter with the Carney-Gibbs Journal. She won the Canegallo Award for Ethics in Journalism fifteen years ago and now I feel I have disgraced her memory. The award was created “to honor the journalist of integrity and character who reports with insight and clarity in the face of political or economic pressures and to reward performance that inspires public trust in the media.”
I betrayed that public trust.
I would love to say the demands of the job caused me to misrepresent myself to you, but that would give a simple response to a complicated situation. Living up the to expectations of how people perceive a person is difficult. My aunt, through her reputation, opened a lot of doors for me. I was assumed to be a chip off the block, a tireless advocate like my aunt was.
My years away from my aunt made me forget the reason why she got into journalism, the reason why I wanted to be a journalist. No, that’s not exactly correct. Right now, I’m not sure what I want to be, which is exactly the moral issue I’m wrestling with. I was striving, just as I did with my years at Hawat Information Conglomerate, to fit a perception I wasn’t fully comfortable with. When I was working with my aunt, it wasn’t about the hits that drove her to a story, it was the humanity. She was always looking to move past the numbers, past the cold calculations of the matrix of what sold and would look at the humanity of the work.
I lost my way, and in doing that I allowed myself to shave corners, to not be the best I could be because I wanted to fill the quota, to it the matrix and to bring favorable reviews. That was wrong, I now realize.
My trust with you, the reader, has been broken, maybe broken forever.
For that, I ask for forgiveness and understanding.
My life in the corporate world tainted me more that I realized. I went for the quick fix, the simple way to get noticed, and unfortunately the work that I cared for, the injustice I’ve seen and the corruption that continues to plague the Empire, has gone unchecked. I wanted to shed light on them, but few listened. Most are still in awe of the excitement and exhilaration of sensational news. Stories about ace pilots, the war veterans and their military hardware, is candy to the general citizenry. The plight and suffering of their fellow citizens and civilians, the everyday struggles that we face and the lack of support we give is buried.
I’m one person, and trying to get that information out to the people was an enormous task. My editor wanted views and the boring, hard facts wasn’t getting it. I was constantly reminded about my aunt, how she would have gotten the views, but those views were because of her reputation over years of perseverance. Years of trust build those views. I wanted to ride the coattails of my name, and when that didn’t happened instead of relying and holding steadfast to slow growth, I went for the quick fix, which allowed me to submerge my journalistic integrity for numbers.
In my mind, journalism has changed. We went from reliable sources and ethics to rumors and speculations. In my aunt’s days, you would need to thoroughly source stories. Today, I found more often than not, an innuendo was good enough to run with a story, even without full vetting. If the story ended up being not as accurate as it should be, a minor correction would be good enough for editors. Why not make sure the story is fully vetted before it is published? The rush to be first, even if the story turned out to be false, was good enough. I was told many times that being first was more important that being right.
I knew that was wrong. I knew that went against everything my aunt taught me, but just like I did in the corporate world, I suppressed my concerns and followed the advice because of the paycheck.
Now that I have been exposed, doing things my editor was aware of, I’m the one who is at fault. My editor still has their job. They were given a slap on the wrist and is still working with the organization. I’m a freelancer, so my fate has already been determined.
That’s why I’m writing this. I need to take some time off. I need to evaluate why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s been an interesting year, but I need to work out if I’m doing all of this to live in the shadow of my aunt, or if I want to forge a path on my own. I’m rethinking all sort of thing, even with my small organization. I need to do what’s right for me and I’m not really sure what right for me means. I’ve drifted through so many jobs, and I thought my work with my organization would fulfill a hole I had in me, with journalism being a way to give voice to the voiceless, but my actions, however well-meaning they were, might have jeopardize that.
I need to seek out and understand who I am.