In the second episode of this season’s Jersey Shore, Deena struggled with the meaning of the word ‘integrity’, and in an email from my supervisor to me today, it read, “I appreciate the integrity!”
While Deena sipped on what was presumably cranberry vodkas and slurred her speech over the bar, trying to find some form of definition for the word integrity, my supervisor knew exactly what it meant. And how important it was.
I’ve just taken a shower and am currently sipping on a huge cup of green tea, a little annoyed that I’m still hungry despite having a decent dinner. My roommates and I have just turned off the TV after the second Presidential Debate and are each now, fixated on our respective computers, attempting to catch up with homework that always seem to be ahead of us.
I had volunteered to take notes from the debate today for one of my classes. I knew that I lacked participation in that class because it was a graduate level class, so getting notes from this debate would be an easy way to make up for it. I was going to watch it anyway.
For those of you who did tune in to watch the debacle, you would know that it was nothing like the first one. However, looking at it from a bigger point of view, past the heated arguments and remarks, I knew that what it should boil down to was the facts.
My Twitter feed exploded with commentaries, opinions and hashtags enough to last a lifetime. I guess it’s so easy to lose fact from fiction in the midst of all this excitement and clutter, and that’s why I especially love being a journalist. While people were re-tweeting clever, humorous comments on Twitter, I tried as hard I could to follow the debate whilst fact checking each candidate’s statement. From energy policies to immigration to China, major news organizations such as the New York Times, CNN and Times provided coverage on the accuracy of the statements each candidate made.
For some reason, all I’d wanted to do, to post, to my followers were the facts.
I’ve always thought of the field of journalism as a field of values. Particularly for me, I hold myself accountable for everything that I’ve published, and will publish. I guess this profession stemmed from a noble purpose. They say the media serves as a watchdog over the government, which I think is true, but greater than that is the responsibility the media has to the people.
I made my first journalistic error a couple of weeks ago when I had misprinted my source’s name in one of my articles and also misquoted her in one of her quotes. I was mortified when I read the story in print the next day and realized my mistake. I debated in my head on whether or not I should let my editor know or not. I mean, no one would even actually know if this was her right name or not. And I could potentially save myself from getting yelled at if I had just pretended that I didn’t know anything about it.
But I couldn’t. I read the article over and over again, and each time, the mistake just seemed larger than ever. It was like I had an ethical subconscious eating away at my mind, telling me the longer I’d waited to notify my editor about it, the worse it’d get. In all honesty, the word ‘transparency’ was the only thing I could hear in my head.
So finally, I emailed both my managing editor and the online editor at my publication. I held my breath throughout the entire 10 minutes that it took for them to respond to me. Thankfully, they were positive responses, and nothing like I thought it was going to be like. I imagined how much I would’ve regretted if I had decided not to tell them about it. A wave of relief washed over me. I came into the office the next day to issue a correction statement over my mistake and my editor was there to assure me that people make mistakes. And mine was an honest one.
It was a hard lesson to learn but I’m thankful I got to learn it. Because of it, I take my role and profession that much more seriously now. I think of my audience and think of how disappointed they’d be if they found out I wasn’t honest. There’s nothing worse than disappointing someone.
My supervisor had emailed me today, thanking me for having the integrity because I wanted to ask my editors at my present internship if I was allowed to write content at my job. Deena from the Jersey Shore came to the conclusion that integrity was equivalent to shame. That if you had no integrity meant that you had no shame.
I think, to certain extents, that Deena’s pretty accurate.