If you ask a student “what should a newspaper should strive to be?” the word neutral would likely come up as one of the few defining characteristics of good journalism. The newspaper’s job is to report what happened and let readers decide where they stand. Fair, balanced, unbiased facts.
While putting together this first issue of Driftwood, we knew we wanted the primary focus to be on Black Lives Matter, the defining social cause of the last two years, a cause that has been brought to the forefront of the nation’s attention this summer with the recent incidents of police brutality and the violent backlash against officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
The cause boils down to the idea that in America, there exists an institutionalized bias against blacks and other people of color in America, that there is a system in place that makes it easier to ascend the social and financial hierarchies of America if you are white, specifically if you are a white male.
As we put together articles, sought out interviews, and assigned writers to specific topics, we knew we were tackling the issue from the angle that this prejudiced system exists.
And that gave us pause. There is another side to this issue, a huge portion of the population that believes this system does not exist, that it’s a product of a paranoid, politically correct culture. To be totally neutral, we would need to collect interviews and write articles from this perspective. And we could not publish nor collect these ignorant, uninformed interviews in good conscience.
The job of a journalist is not to be objective, it is to report the truth.
Should journalists give equal time to 9/11 conspiracy theories as they give to interviews with victim’s families? Or should a journalist stop an interview with a meteorologist to interview someone who claims that the sky is purple? Of course not, the idea is ridiculous.
To stay completely neutral is to give false equivalence to ideas that do not deserve equal amount of time. Institutional racism is not an opinion or a theory. It is a fact.
The recent police shootings have not been isolated incidents, they are indicative of a larger problem. This paper is not, and does not claim to be, neutral on all topics. Racism, hatred, and unfounded fear should not have equal time with love, inclusion and hope.