In the HBO show The Newsroom, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), a primetime news anchor for a high-end cable company, goes on a rant about who qualifies as real journalists after getting pissed off at a trash-talking tabloid writer. You can watch the full, emotionally-driven, well-delivered monologue here, but for the sake of those who don’t want to watch it, here it is:
“I got a guy in my staff who was hit in the head with a glass door Thursday, his forehead wouldn’t stop bleeding but he wouldn’t go to a doctor cause I got another guy who got beat up covering Cairo. The first guy wouldn’t see a doctor until the second guy saw a doctor. I’ve got a producer who ran into a locked door because he thought he was responsible for the second guy. I’ve got an 18-year-old kid risking his life halfway around the world and the AP who sent him there hasn’t slept in three days. I’ve got twenty-somethings who care about teachers in Wisconsin. I’ve got a grown woman, who has to subtract with her fingers, staying up all night trying to learn economics from a PhD, who could be making twenty times the money working three miles downtown. They’re journalists.”
Now, this isn’t to degrade those working for gossip publications, but there are certain areas of journalism that demand more of the people involved in covering the news around the world—more risks, more courage, more truth, more determination. It demands someone who’s not afraid to put everything on line—including their own life—just for the sake of uncovering the truth. It demands someone who’s passionate about helping people, standing up for people and giving a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. It’s more than just writing about whatever story is assigned that week. It’s talking about the stuff that no one wants to talk about—like racism in Ferguson, like genocide in Nigeria, like communism in North Korea.
At ACU, we chose journalism because we want to make a difference. We want to help people by writing about things that matter. Reading about the fascinating lives of celebrities and their problems and their fashion might be entertaining, but it doesn’t make a lasting impact. As journalists, as members of the media with the power of mass communication, we have the opportunity to change the world. And, despite all the risks that come along with being a journalist, we’re going to change it for the better.