Column: Tell us the truth and don’t be afraid

“Tell the truth and don’t be afraid.”

These simple words run across page 1 of the Daily Eastern News every day. I only recently found out that Livingston C. Lord, the first president of Eastern, said them.

Whoever adopted this as our motto understood the importance of those words and what they mean for journalists.

Now is a time when those words mean more than they ever did. Now the lines between journalism and the media, and a reporter and paparazzi, have blurred to be almost indistinguishable. Now is a time when the future of the entire industry is shaky at best.

I recently read a Huffington Post article titled “You’re Out: 20 Things that Became Obsolete this Decade” which, among VCRs, bookstores and landline phones, listed newspaper classifieds as no longer necessary. This is a problem because newspapers, including The Daily Eastern News make most of their profits from advertising, specifically classifieds.

For years now people have been foretelling the extinction of reporters and newspapers.

Still, every day dozens of people work on this newspaper writing articles, taking photos, creating videos and designing pages. Your peers, your students, people you see walking across campus, dedicate themselves to what some would call a dying industry.

But I disagree with those critics who doom newspapers and journalism. As long as people have a passion for the news and there are people who want information, the news industry will be around.

Watergate is the shining beacon of investigative journalism that most people look to when they think of the power of the gatekeepers and the unofficial fourth branch of our government.

So where would we be if 10, 25 years in the future no one was there to hold our government accountable? Will we have to rely entirely on citizen journalists and inexperienced bloggers to make sure that our taxes are being used appropriately and the laws represent the needs of the people?

Most people who go into journalism do it because they want to serve the public. Not to get their name in print, not to make money, not to become famous. Journalists want to help their communities.

Right now the biggest threat to journalism is not the internet or even the cost. Our biggest problem is forgetting that we work for the people and it is our job to tell them in whatever format may come, what is the news.

I stand by Lord’s words and our dedication to tell the truth, knowing that even so we will make mistakes, after all we are human, and that they are part of the job. But it is also our job to correct those mistakes and to be accurate and truthful in every story, every photo and every video.

With this in mind I encourage everyone at Eastern to join the conversation, to be part of the community. Please send us a letter, comment online at or just come into our office in 1811 Buzzard Hall and talk sometime. We welcome all comments, critiques and corrections in our never-ending quest to tell the truth and not be afraid.

Emily Steele is a senior journalism major.

She can be reached at 581-7942

or [email protected] .