The Truth and Journalism

Emily Two months ago Joel Nofziger wrote that the five principles of the Weather Vane are “honesty, comprehensiveness, impartiality, sensitivity, and accountability.”

He went on to say that “Journalistic independence ensures that important stories are uncensored, all student voices are represented, and bias does not dictate coverage.”

My experiences at EMU lead me to believe that the Weather Vane has not always acted with complete honesty, comprehensiveness, or impartiality during my years at EMU. Yet, and this is important, I do not believe that this is the Weather Vane’s fault.

During my years at EMU many good things have happened to and because of students, but there have been negative events as well. In thinking over the past two years, I find it odd that the Weather Vane did not cover the story of an SGA president being removed from office or any of the various serious instances of drug and alcohol abuse on campus.

Nofziger says, “The Weather Vane commits to providing comprehensive coverage of events on EMU’s campus,” but clearly some stories are preferable to others.

While I could be wrong, it seems to me that EMU has a strange, strong culture of pretending that people here do not have problems. It is as though, because we are a Christian institution, we have a duty to be good; I might even say we (perhaps unconsciously) think we must be better than everyone else.

I find this culture to be absolutely infuriating. Issues that cannot be spoken of cannot be dealt with. Our culture of silence regarding mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and even, unbelievably, simple bad choices, perpetuates the belief that these issues are shameful and makes them even harder to address.

At one point during my time at EMU, a friend of mine was suicidal. I remember wondering if my school would even address the matter if this friend took their own life. Based on my three and a half years of observation of EMU’s administration, I am still not sure.

I find it frustrating that I cannot trust my administration or my newspaper to be honest with me. The problem, though, as I stated above, is not with the newspaper. Perhaps it is not even with the administration. It is with this engrained belief that we must appear to be good in order to be accepted at this Mennonite institution.

I believe that the Weather Vane co-editors and various staff members do take journalistic ethics seriously. I also believe that they are stuck between these ethics and the hard place of feeling that they are betraying their community if they honestly tell the true stories they learn.

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.”

I wish that we believed that.

-Emily Harnish, Copy Editor

Categories: Opinion

Leave a Reply