When I was a young pup of 21 and first wetting my toes in the journalistic pool, an instructor sat me down and had a talk with me. Journalists, he said, like to look under rocks at things better left in the dark sometimes. They ask questions and demand answers. However, you can’t be a journalist if you throw your integrity out the window.

It took me years to figure out what he meant by integrity and, at 46, I think I’m finally coming to terms with it. It’s not an easy concept and one you can spend a lifetime examining and have no better understanding of it than you do a Mobius strip. Once you do see it, though, you can’t unsee it and I’m so grateful to that instructor whose name eludes me into the mists of my memory.

There are two parts to being a journalist or communicator or writer. Whatever you want to call it, they all come to the same at their core. They’re all kissing cousins of one another. The first part is truth. Anyone who feeds words to the public holds truth as their beacon in all they do. Fiction writers may coat this truth with a candy shell of a lie called fiction but it’s still there. Truth is manna to a journalist. It feeds and sustains us and we know it comes in a myriad of forms. Truth isn’t a hard diamond that can be categorized and examined easily. It’s more like a slimy pile of goo that squishes through your fingers and sometimes defies explanation. Yet journalists wade and bathe and eat and drink this stuff daily. It’s our love-hate relationship. That’s why we love editors who double check our facts and why we revere proofreaders who examine our words with a critical eye. We’re proud of the truth we put down in words. We carry it like an albatross around our neck, knowing it’s the price we pay for the love of the written word we have.

The second part to being a journalist is responsibility. When we put that truth into the wind and into the ears of our readers, we know it’s coming back to us in one form or another. Our love of that truth makes it possible for us to stand firm when anger or fear that we’ve aroused lashes at us. It’s what makes it possible for journalists to survive horrid conditions when our truth lands us in prison in war-torn countries. That truth makes us rally together to support and love one another even if we don’t agree with each other.

Being able to write a thing does not mean you stand behind it. Taking responsibility is an action of conscience. The words are ours and what they sow, we reap. Journalists know this. So when the words come back and they turn out to be false or harmful, it’s a blow to the soul. Journalists never mean to cause harm, it’s just sometimes a back blow of what we wrote. Journalists are human and sometimes they make mistakes. We love to be the gods of our own words and it gives us a sense of power so it’s shocking when we find out we bleed like everyone else.

So when a station like 630CHED puts out a poll like they did yesterday that asked, “It’s very controversial but do you think victims of sexual assaults share any blame for what happens?” I became enraged. This went against everything I believe as a storyteller and former freelance journalist. Adding to the lie that is the rape culture is irresponsible and has nothing to do with truth.

630CHED then went and issued an apology which left a lot to be desired. In this apology, they stated that the question was taken out of context. That they were merely responding to a report they’d read about “Sexual Exploitation” week. Let’s break that down. So the problem wasn’t the poll, the problem was that readers merely took it wrong because they didn’t have access to the same information that 630CHED journalists did.

Sounds like victim blaming to me.

They then went on the air and apologized this morning, taking full responsibility for the question saying that it never should have been asked in the first place. I still have a problem with it. Okay, everyone makes a mistake once in a while. I get it. But this is the apology that should have happened the first time. To give this apology now seems like too little, too late. This isn’t responsible journalism. First they shifted blame then apologized after they realized that wasn’t going to work.

I am still angry at 630CHED for perpetuating the rape culture. They caused harm in doing so. I continue being angry at them for not taking full responsibility for their mistake. Journalists are better than that.

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