Several hundred mostly Black protesters gathered around the state capitol building in Tallahassee, Fla. this week, according to National Public Radio. Their songs, reminiscent of the civil rights era, “We Will Not Be Moved” and “We Shall Overcome,” rang above their marching. Their protest? Repeal Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.
Groups like this have rallied since the death of Treyvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, who shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Under the Stand Your Ground law, which gives individuals the right to use deadly force as self-defense, Zimmerman was later acquitted of murder charges.
Tallahassee might not have seen such a large protest this week if the Zimmerman case went uncovered by the news media.
Would the majority of people have known about the facts of Martin’s death and the subsequent trial unless it was presented in a public forum? People were informed about Zimmerman’s acquittal via the news and then could respond. Newspapers provide free access to information in a democratic society, keeping people accountable and building strong communities.
That’s why I do journalism.
Reporters go into the world, collect information and share it with the public. Then the public has the opportunity to respond and interact.
Protestors have started a movement to change a law that allows someone to kill a teenager without consequences. On the other hand, some have also spoken up for the freedom to bear arms.
Zimmerman sat at a table at the New Orlando Gun Show on Saturday to sign autographs and shake hands with attendees, according to Huffington Post. He told the Daily News he was there to “meet supporters.” However, some responses are stronger than others. It was reported that fewer than 20 people came to his table during the six hours he sat there.
There has also been plenty of information to respond to in The Record this semester. This week, The Record reports that a new MBA program will be offered, faculty members have raised concerns with distractions in chapel and convocation, a new website that chronicles Anabaptist martyrs was launched and Latinos have been widely underrepresented in local politics.
Some of those stories might garner responses from the GC community; some might have more responses than others, and people might disagree about those responses.
But like all newspapers, The Record won’t evaluate any facts as good or bad. The objectivity that journalism is founded upon allows readers to develop their own opinions.
Journalists simply report the facts.
On Facebook and in online blogs, people from across the U.S. poured out their opinions about the Zimmerman case. Those are appropriate venues for people to offer evaluations of current events, including those that affect the GC community, too. But those evaluations could have only been formed after a careful review of the facts. That’s where the objectivity of newspapers comes in.
In some cases, it’s appropriate for well-articulated opinions to show up in news stories as quotes from credited sources. Page six of this paper, a forum for perspectives and opinions, exists for reason of sharing evaluations of news apart from the news. (After all, clashing public opinions sometimes constitutes news. Consider reporting the opinions of politicians, for example. That information is necessary for voters.)
However, journalists at The Record will never publish their evaluations as news. That simply isn’t journalism.
We will report what is going on in the GC community, but the action is up to you. How will you respond?
Pieces, roughly 600 words or less, expressing evaluations of current events can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.