Be kind to the journalists

At the end of this election, I have one request: Be kind to each other.

Be kind to those who are different from you. Be kind to those with whom you disagree.

And be kind to the journalists, too. Please.

I say this as someone who works as a copy editor in a newsroom.

People don’t always like what we publish, and that’s OK. We don’t always like the things we’re covering, but we cover them anyway.

But there’s no reason for any of us to be unkind just because we don’t like something.

The people at my news organization have been called various combinations of PROFANITY IN ALL CAPS on social media.

We’ve been called “useless” and told we “lie blatantly.” (It’s part of my job to check the facts. I can personally guarantee we’re not lying.)

One Facebook commenter recently said we’re “scum.” And then, this: “KILL YOURSELVES ASAP. THANKS.”

And it’s not just our newsroom.

A man was spotted at a rally in Minnesota wearing a shirt with a message about hanging journalists.

A former Major League pitcher saw the tweet and said it was “awesome,” and even “funny.”

There’s nothing funny about a shirt that makes a joke out of killing people. There’s nothing clever about telling people to go kill themselves.

It’s disturbing.

I know there are a lot of people out there who enjoy and appreciate the news. And I know a lot of people who have a ton of respect for journalists.

But so often these days, I see “the media” disparaged, as if we are some giant monster out to consume the world.

That’s not who we are.

We’re a bunch of individual people doing our jobs.

As Paul Fahri wrote in The Washington Post, “Calling out ‘the media’ makes about as much sense as calling out ‘people.’ Some are fair, some aren’t. But they’re not all the same.”

We’re not perfect. Sometimes, we make mistakes. When they happen, we fix them as fast as we can (and deal with the horrible sting of shame and frustration). We do our very best to avoid mistakes altogether. Accuracy is a key part of our work.

We’ve been hustling to stay caught up with the endless surprises of this election. We’ve been digging for truth and checking the facts so we can tell the real story.

(And yes, in spite of what the cynics say, it IS possible to find and verify facts. That’s what we’re trained to do.)

And yet, we’re called liars. Meanwhile, hoaxes, distorted half-truths, and “fake news” spread on social media.

I’ve copy edited and fact-checked more stories about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton than I care to attempt to count. But I’ll keep going, and so will the others who work in newsrooms around the country.

On Election Day, we’ll mix adrenaline with exhaustion, coffee, and pizza. We’ll carry out the plans that have been in the works for weeks, and we’ll do our very best to provide accurate information as quickly as we possibly can.

The day after, we’ll want to collapse into a giant pile of blankets. But we’ll keep going, because things probably won’t calm down. We’ll keep reporting, writing, editing, producing — churning out the news, because that is our responsibility and our joy.

We’ll continue because we’re passionate about understanding the world. We’re dedicated to seeking the facts and putting them in context. The only agenda we have is to inform the people we serve.

We write about the ugly things that people don’t want to hear and the beautiful things that people love. We write about things that make people angry and things that are inspiring. We write what needs to be written.

No matter where you stand on politics, know that the journalists of the world are not out to get you. We’re doing our best to serve our readers. Our neighbors. Our fellow citizens. Our friends.

You don’t have to like us. But please, be kind.

 

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