May 13, 2003

Trust in journalists threatened

This past Sunday The New York Times printed an extensive retraction on its front page apologizing for the actions of one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, who had apparently fabricated parts of at least 36 different stories during his four years at the newspaper. The worldwide reactions to the apology have made clear how powerfully journalists impact their readers and the profound responsibility we have to convey the truth, whether we are professional or student journalists.

We at the Maroon are at once furious with Blair, saddened for our field, and deeply determined to continue to strive for excellence in reporting. As readers of the Times, we are shocked and disappointed that one of our most trusted sources of truth has been shown to be, at times, untrustworthy. As journalists, we are humiliated and outraged by Blair's total disregard for the fundamental principal of honesty in our profession.

Most resolutely, however, as students and journalists we choose to learn from this debacle. We understand that we will at times err, but in our quest for accuracy, we ask that our readership be attentive and help us maintain our standards of excellence by alerting us to any mistakes we may make as we work to sharpen our reporting skills. Even the most respected newspapers sometimes make mistakes, but, as they say, the only remedy for bad journalism is good journalism. We have learned that a journalist's relationship to her readership is precious, and the violation of this trust has serious and far-reaching consequences, and this is a responsibility that we take very seriously.