A journalist has two sacred trusts between him and his source:
1. Always protect your source – journalists have gone to jail instead of giving up their sources.
2. Always respect “off the record.”
These two things allow journalists to build respect and trust between them and newsmakers. It’s how the system works. It’s journalism 101. Actually, it’s journalism from freshman high school level. Okay, make that seventh grade.
When Terry Moran put Obama’s comment about Kanye West being a jackass on twitter he violated that sacred trust. And a “journalist” who’s willing to do that has no respect for the system and will do anything. I cannot imagine a newsmaker ever trusting him again. If I were a newsmaker I wouldn’t even tell him what time it was.
I won’t even comment on his “opinion” added to the tweet. Surely we all know that real journalists don’t give opinion. They give facts. If you want to be a commentator, get a show for that or get a blog. If you want to be a journalist, there are some rules to follow. See numbers 1 and 2 above for starters.
It’s not that I disagree with Obama’s assessment, and I doubt too many are going to jump to the defense of Kanye West because most people think grown men shouldn’t be terribly rude to teenagers at all, much less in front of millions of people. Frankly, I like having a president who feels like the rest of us do about such a thing instead of having some politically correct answer.
But I really don’t want to live in a world where the way I found this out is accepted practice. I’m not one to talk a whole lot about the constitution, but there’s a reason it is written for freedom of the press. Without respect for these rules there can be no free press, and without that there can be no free people.