Edit Desk: High pressure, better journalism

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2020 has been a historic and memorable year for everyone.

Andrew Isaacson

Just this year, a global pandemic has infected millions of people worldwide, followed by an uprising in social justice throughout the nation and a crucial election that will determine what this country will look like for years to come. 

All of these national and global events have left us confused, frightened and uncertain about what the future holds.

For me, this year has been a challenge taking classes remotely and having limited social interactions with friends and family in person. 

One of the few bright spots during these uncertain times has been endless media opportunities to further my journalistic skills. I decided to take on more initiative and responsibility in the last eight months as a way to elevate my reporting in high pressure situations and educate and better myself. 

During times of crisis, the role of journalists and the media is more important than ever. Everyone relies on information from the press about the ongoing events. Journalism is the first draft of history.

As a student journalist, I understood my role would matter more during these unsettling times, and I made it an obligation to step up and become a leading voice. 

When I was reporting on Lehigh going fully remote in the spring and the case counts in the Lehigh Valley, I felt like I was performing a civic duty. There was something new happening every minute, and I was eager to stay up to date on everything that was occurring throughout the area. 

When I heard of a Black Lives Matter protest happening in a local town in Newton, New Jersey, in June, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. I felt the obligation to inform my network of followers that these protests weren’t just happening in major cities, but in predominantly white rural towns like Newton

As a white male, I acknowledge that I’m less informed about the issue of racial injustice, but attending the protest was an opportunity for me to educate myself on the issue and listen to diverse perspectives. 

Covering race — or any sensitive topic — in the media is challenging for anyone who does not have any personal experiences in that realm, like myself. 

It is important for any reporter to listen closely to their sources who have had individual encounters with the problem at hand. Word choice is crucial for avoiding bias and stereotypes. 

Interviewing a diverse group of sources is extremely important for reporters to give their readers the full picture for any story, not just in terms of race and background, but in terms of the perspectives that they can give us.

I was proud of The Brown and White for covering both Biden and Trump local campaign rallies leading up to the election. Covering both through sources with different political beliefs helps limit biases in the media. 

I was upset to see all the criticism that the paper received on social media for attending Trump’s rally in Allentown one week leading up to the election. I want everyone to understand that our publication was not trying to make a political statement. 

We were doing our basic job by covering the news and ensuring fairness for both sides. It would have been catastrophic if we decided to ignore the presidential rally in the area or only cover one of the candidates. 

Nov. 3, 2020, is a day I will never forget, no matter which candidate winds up becoming the next president. 

I was at the center of democracy by reporting at the Bethlehem polls. I interviewed voters from all ages and with different political opinions to make sure everyone’s voice was heard. To ensure that my reporting was unbiased. 

I once again felt like my role mattered to everyone in the Bethlehem community who was eager to see what was happening. 

While 2020 has been difficult, this year has also shown me that the role of journalism in our society is more important than ever. These situations have brought out the best in me and allowed me to grow as a journalist in ways that I could never have imagined. 

But at the same time, all reporters and myself must continue to improve and ensure that we are striving for accuracy and honesty in our reporting. We must also continue to not back down from any obstacles and criticisms that have been presented to us and instead use it as motivation to rise to the occasion. 

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2 Comments

  1. Bruce Haines ‘67 on

    Well stated & congratulations on attempting to be a fair & balanced reporter. Unless you are an opinion page reporter, it is your duty to cover the President’s rally without criticism.

    The liberal left has essentially taken over the media & most universities. Lehigh has fallen into the trap of the liberal eastern schools that have abandoned dialogue in favor of biased anger against anyone expressing other than the liberal left agenda.

    Stay the course on your journalistic path & you will ultimately be a shining light for freedom of speech and respectful dialogue among Americans.

  2. Robert F. Davenport Jr on

    You write: “I was upset to see all the criticism that the paper received on social media for attending Trump’s rally in Allentown one week leading up to the election. I want everyone to understand that our publication was not trying to make a political statement.” Amen to this and to the rest of what you write. I thought The Brown & White (B&W) coverage was very fair and, in a way, a change from the normal liberal B&W bias (according to Webster and not liberal “emotion speak”). The reaction, I think, is evidence of the liberal bias in most of B&W readers.

    Upsetting people should probably not be a goal but if you are not upsetting some people sometimes, you are probably not doing the job of journalist right.

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