By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Why apprehension is dangerous to journalistic integrity

Yohanes Goodell
Landis Hanson, an alumni of CWU, planned the Palestinian demonstration outside Black Hall
Layla Taha, a Palestinian student at CWU, spoke at the event advocating for the Palestinian people living in the Gaza Strip (yohanes)

On Oct. 11, a group of CWU students were involved in an on-campus demonstration in support of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. As a member of The Observer staff, I was assigned to photograph and report on the event. 

Much to my surprise, when the next edition of The Observer was published on Oct. 16, the story was absent. When I asked why the story was pulled, I was told that a decision was reached by the faculty advisor and editor-in-chief that the story, which passively contained views in favor of the Palestinians, was not adequately balanced by views that supported the Israeli position. 

I believe the decision was detrimental to the integrity of The Observer’s journalistic mission, as this event was solely seen as an opinion piece, not a breaking news event. Granted, it was a news event that conveyed opinion; nonetheless, it was an important news event, the likes of which we don’t often see on the CWU campus.

 As a reporter and photographer, it was encouraging to witness a group of students expressing their political views through the exercise of free speech. If we must always report credible news stories by highlighting a contrasting perspective, then we are sacrificing our moral responsibility as a news outlet to report on breaking news. 

If a group of students who are conservationists march across campus, must I wait to interview a group of anti-environmentalists? If an earthquake crumbles buildings on the CWU campus, should I drive to a different college campus where there hasn’t been a turbulent aftermath and interview individuals from that college community? If I reported a breaking news story on a group of CWU students who held a pro-Palestinian rally, should I have held the story until I found a group of students marching for Israeli rights?  

I believe the decision to pull the Palestinian-demonstration piece should not have been made. The event was a breaking news story, not an occasion for the publication to take a political stance on the ongoing war in the Middle East. The job of a news reporter is to report the news; in that respect, we failed. 

Being apprehensive of one’s reporting is not only a threat to journalism but also a threat to the truth in the world. If we constantly live in fear of how viewers may respond, then we will lose sight of our moral obligation to objectively report the news in a timely fashion. Moving forward, I hope that The Observer will do its part to report on breaking news stories regardless of the topics’ inherent partisan views. 

I hope that we, as a publication, uphold a mission statement to continue to seek the truth and empower the community. Overall, we cannot withhold reporting the news out of fear. Here is the bottom line: as news reporters, if we are not irritating or challenging any member of the public, then we are not doing our job. 

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