Williams’ truth problem poses issue for all journalists

Feb. 09, 2015

The Scribe

So, it seems that the most trusted name in Nightly News lied.

Brian Williams, host of NBC Nightly News falsely represented his experience in Iraq in 2003. Williams, after the event, repeatedly told the story that he was either in a helicopter that was shot down or in the same squad as one that was.

As has been reported through several media outlets, this story was a stretch if not completely untrue.

Rem Rieder from USA Today posted this about the controversy.

“It’s disturbing that Williams has told many different versions of this story over the years. In some he was in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire. In some he was in one near the chopper that was hit. This from a man whose word should be gospel to us?”

This sort of thing causes several problems for students, journalists and student journalists.

First, this makes our job, something we do as a profession and hope to one day turn into a living, extremely hard. In a job that requires complete trust, to have the most well-known and highly regarded member of our profession break that trust makes it hard for us to do our job.

If Americans cannot trust the people that bring them the news, they cannot trust the news itself.

Second, it will be hard, very hard, to remedy this. Trust is one of the few things that, once lost, is almost impossible to regain. Not only will it be hard for Williams, but it will be hard for all journalists.

The same level of credibility he enjoyed will, in all likelihood, never be seen again.

But he is human. And as humans, we all make mistakes. He just happened to make his mistake on a large scale.

We hope that he can at least be forgiven and that this incident does not affect the reputation of all journalists, especially those like us at The Scribe: folks that may want to does this for the rest of their lives.

An event like this helps explain why The Scribe is confronted with mistrust on an almost daily basis. We sincerely hope that you will judge us for what we do and how we conduct ourselves, not for the reputation ruining that seems to take place in our industry every so often.

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