North Texas Daily

How Meryl Streep nailed journalistic ethics

How Meryl Streep nailed journalistic ethics

How Meryl Streep nailed journalistic ethics
January 18
13:55 2017

Victoria Falcon | Staff Writer

Actress Meryl Streep astonished many with her Golden Globes speech on Jan. 8. After accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, she used her speech to condemn President-elect Donald Trump’s stance on immigration. She also condemned his infamous reenactment of a disabled reporter.

Above all, she reinforced the need for kindness and decency, but there was another point she made that may be overlooked. Streep asked the press to continue calling out our leaders, and asked everyone to support the Committee to Protect Journalists because “we are going to need them going forward.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, the United States is ranked 41 out of 180 countries with the most “freedom of [press] information.” A common fear journalists have facing Trump’s presidency is that his constant distrust of the press will lower this number.

Trump has criticized several esteemed sources numerous times, including the New York Times and CNN. During his first press conference as president-elect, a scene ensued when he refused to take a question from CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.

Trump then called CNN “fake news” and he continued to deny Acosta. When speaking with Anderson Cooper after the debacle, Acosta said, “there is something worse than fake news and that’s the denial of real news.”

Trump shoots down members of any publication that call him out or who say something he doesn’t like. If he continues to deny publications’ questions, it will lead to further censorship.

There is also the issue of actual fake news. This past November, according to Business Insider, it was revealed that fake news had outperformed real news on Facebook with the most clicks and shares of 2016.

This is an imminent issue that calls for not only journalists but all people to be media literate and check their facts. Several of these false stories make social media daily and many people consume them without question, especially if it coincides with their political stances.

Regardless of your politics, it’s a civic duty to verify all information you read. The most obvious thing that journalists need to do is drown out fake news with the truth. Reporting needs to be better and must emphasize the ethics and fairness journalism is meant to uphold.

To all reporters, use your platform to report and document all happenings. History will tell itself. Don’t treat Trump as a character that must be taken down, because that’s when the media loses.

Similarly, BuzzFeed lost when it used unverified information in a Jan. 10 story about Russia having compromising memos on Trump. In turn, it made BuzzFeed look even more like a tabloid.

Although there is currently a race to leak such a story, it is in moments like these when journalists can learn to take more time, be thorough and be fair. Because when they don’t, it gives Trump an excuse to instill more distrust in the press and to deny any question he can about the topic.

With all of this going on, the climate for being an American journalist offers some of the worst conditions we’ve ever seen. Many citizens still don’t trust the press and will continue to deny all publications, even if it has merit.

As we move forward, journalists must reignite the reason they entered their profession, as all consumers of news need factual awareness.

Now that journalists have Hollywood on our side, we must keep expanding this base and ask for more press freedom so the press can keep checks and balances on our leaders. We must never let those roles reverse. 

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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