Elections stir journalists emotions
November 11, 2012
At approximately 11:18 p.m. last Tuesday we all took to our twitter to either take part in or witness on the cyber celebration that was taking place when President Obama was reelected. Whether you watched it all unfold from your computer or television screen it was surely something historical and extraordinary to witness and it was all too hard to look away. When NBC, CNN and other trustworthy affiliates announced their predictions based on the belief that Obama would win Ohio it was like a bomb went off. Our friends, celebrity idols and fellow journalists alike tweeted their thoughts and praise about our President sharing things like “my president is still black”, “now we can really move forward,” and some not so mentionable things for those that supported Mitt Romney and his counterpart Paul Ryan. We became immersed in the twitter frenzy that was going on before our eyes retweeting and favoriting everything that resonated with our feelings during this event. According to mashable.com, it was the most tweeted event in U.S. political history at nearly 20 million tweets.
As I sat in my room and took in everything that was taking place I couldn’t help but want to share in the celebration that happening amongst my friends and colleagues on my timeline. But although, my fingers were itching to tweet to express my personal feelings towards this momentous occasion, I did not. Being a political reporter my last two years here at OU has given me the touchy task of keeping my political views quiet while the rest of the world is free to debate controversial issues and support candidates without being silenced. Being a position as such has put an invisible muzzle over my mouth at times when I feel that I want to speak out about on an issue where I feel that my voice needs to be heard or better yet, can make a difference. What was really shocking to me on Tuesday night is that once the prediction was made and Obama had surpassed the 270 electoral college votes that he needed to win those invisible muzzles that remained trapped tight to a lot of journalists during the campaigning season fell off and they too expressed their gratitude the Obama was reelected with the rest of the world. I sat and wondered to myself, is it ever ok to express your political views as a journalist, even when the election is over?
I think not. As student journalist’s we need to train ourselves how to refrain from expressing our biases and opinions especially on social networks. This not only conflicts our duty to stay neutral but puts chances of getting a job out of college on the line. It’s fine to utilize social media as a reporting tool, in fact nowadays it is encouraged and often beat into our brains by our lovely professors at Scripps. But, you have to know how to draw the line. My thoughts on this matter are not just geared towards political reporter but all types. You never know what type of reporting your going to be doing from day to day. One minute you could be covering a high school basketball game and the next you could be covering the presidential address. It is neither safe nor smart to think that you’ll never be reporting on politics or political issues. In the newsroom you have to be prepared to cover anything and everything.
That being said it is best to stay neutral on all topics at all times. Some would probably think, “Well journalists are human and they are naturally going to have opinions to.” This is indeed correct. There’s no arguing that journalists are human. We are by no means robots that are invincible or wired to not show emotion. It’s ok to feel a certain way about an event or issue just be mindful of where you share feelings. Twitter and Facebook are the first places that our future employers lurk to get a glimpse of who we are not only as professionals, but as people. Let’s not cut down the number of job offers we get once we graduate before that time even comes. Twitter can be your best friend and your worst enemy when it comes to a career in this industry. Use it wisely.