Trusting great journalism begins with a commitment to a truthful narrative

Trusting great journalism

I have been married to journalism professionally and personally for nearly two decades. My husband is a journalist. I used to be a journalist.

I don’t always agree with journalists, but I know I can’t live without them.

In February, I lost my college friend Anthony Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer winner for The New York Times. Anthony was my college peer at The Daily Cardinal back in the late 80s. Anthony was considered, by many, America’s most trusted ambassador to the Middle East. His loss is profoundly tragic. Anthony paid the ultimate price in journalism with his life, dying at the age of 43, succumbing to an allergic reaction to horses while covering the Syrian revolution. The majority of us, including myself, would never be willing to offer our lives in exchange for the truth. Anthony staked his life on it.

This week, Seattle learned that we have lost the online news outlet Publicola to another failed journalism business model. Josh Feit and Erica Barnett have been our faithful political guides every morning and afternoon in Seattle. We relied on them for the inside gossip as political junkies and on what really drives politics. Thankfully, Crosscut has adopted them.

While the stakes are different, I would argue that the aims of Anthony, Erica and Josh are the same. We need journalists, regardless of the evolving journalism venue or model, to report on their respective beats. Anthony was committed to telling human stories of  innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of war in the Middle East. In Anthony’s stories, these people were no longer objectified by the rhetoric of the U.S. State Department. They became human beings instead of rhetorical, faceless enemies.

I believe that all journalists carry the capacity in their hearts to understand the true human narrative. It’s why they became journalists. And it’s why I remain hopeful about journalism.

At the end of the day, we seek to understand each other. The measure of our truth is not in what we say, but in whom we trust to tell it.

On April 28, 2012, my Cardinalistas came together in Madison, WI, to honor Anthony’s legacy in journalism. These photos embody most of the people who crossed continents and borders to honor his legacy when his journalism dream began and ended. Anthony lives on in the hearts and minds of journalists who are committed to the human narrative everywhere.