I was reading Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg’s ethics statements on All Things D one morning, and I got to thinking about how transparency is such an important quality in today’s media world. With this in mind, I wrote a mission statement that describes my goals and values as a journalist. Although I certainly make mistakes, these are the things I try to live up to. It’s a living document, but here’s the first draft:
I believe that journalism is an essential part of a fully-functioning democracy. Although it is sometimes easy for journalists to convince themselves that they are rock stars, my first priority is to serve the public and provide them with the information they need to make educated decisions.
I believe that to be a journalist is to be devoted to the search for truth. I am accountable for the veracity everything I say and write.
I believe that committing myself to my own greatness is the quickest path to failure. It is only by adopting a cause larger than oneself that one can hope to be great.
I believe that journalism must always strive to bring a voice to the voiceless. It is so seductive to focus on those in a position of power, and while journalists should fulfill their roles as the watchdogs of the rich and powerful, they should also seek out the people who have been repressed, oppressed, ignored, abused, or misunderstood at every possible opportunity.
Journalism is one branch of a long and ancient history of storytelling. I will not forget the importance of engaging my readers.