We live in a society in which an unprecedented amount of information is available within seconds. Yet in America, we have a president consistently ridiculing the purveyors of much of that vital information. Coining the phrase “fake news,” President Donald Trump has led much of the public to view journalists as snakes eager to bend the truth.
The responsibility of a journalist is to pursue the truth despite the personal cost and the inevitable backlash.
“We don’t go into journalism to be popular,” Helen Thomas, the late pioneer for female journalists, said. “It is our job to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers.”
Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi is one of many who fought relentlessly to expose the truth and hold government accountable.
The news of Khashoggi’s disappearance and suspected murder is alarming. He was known for his harsh critique of the Saudi ruling family, specifically the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 to escape rising tensions between him and the royal family. Although he lost his media platform within Saudi Arabia, he quickly began writing as a columnist for the Washington Post, again dishing out harsh judgements on the Saudi crown prince. He even critiqued President Trump and US relations with the Saudi government.
Nonetheless, Khashoggi was the definition of a journalist; he pursued the truth and sought to hold the government accountable for its actions. He embodied the highest call of journalists.
Khashoggi has been killed, and recently Turkish investigations determined a group of nearly 20 agents orchestrated the brutal murder of the journalist. After nearly two weeks of denial, the Saudi Arabian government recognized his death as their cover-up scheme was debunked.
A journalist has been murdered for his pursuit of the truth and his fundamental right to freedom of speech.
Earlier this year, Presidential historian Jon Meacham spoke to Assistant Professor of Journalism and The Beacon Today faculty advisor J. Israel Balderas about the puzzling support by evangelicals for what appears to be
a president challenged by morals.
Journalists are not the enemy. Our stories exposing the raw truth are not weapons against politicians or individuals. We look to call a spade a spade using the facts.
Freedom is contingent upon knowing the truth and being informed. That is what makes journalists so valuable to democracy. Without an informed and educated populous, democracy will not work, and freedom will be squandered.
Khashoggi’s death illustrates an effort to suppress the truth and suppress the right of the individual. We are not the enemies. Truth-seeking journalists are not the enemies. Any form of suppressing the truth is the real "enemy of the people."