You can count on me — to be objective


As an aspiring journalist, many people are counting on me — my friends included.

One evening over dinner, I was having a conversation with my best friend about our future careers.  While I hope to one day see my name in the byline of a centerpiece New York Times Story, my best friend aspires to grace the screen of a future Hollywood blockbuster.

Out of nowhere, she asked me, “Would you write a review of a movie I’m in?”  Without a second thought, I replied, “Of course!”

The instant those words left my mouth, I realized what I had gotten myself into.  I have no interest in being an arts writer — but that’s besides the point.  What if the movie my friend starred in was terrible?  What if her acting was sub-par?  Would I lie in my piece about the quality of the movie in order to maintain our friendship?  I don’t think I could — or should.

This situation is hypothetical and won’t affect me any time soon, and possibly never will.  But a dilemma that I’m currently facing with a Spectrum story brought this old conversation to mind.

A couple of months ago, a fellow UB student e-mailed me because he liked one of my Spectrum columns, and could relate to my story.  Hence began a long e-mail chain in which we shared our experiences. We had never met in person, so I guess we could call ourselves “e-pals.”

For a short while, the e-mailing stopped.  On Thursday, another e-mail from him appeared in my inbox.  I eagerly opened it, anticipating that my “e-pal” wanted to meet up for coffee or something.  Instead, he wanted to talk with me about a “juicy story” idea he had for The Spectrum.

Although I cannot yet uncover the details, my online acquaintance apparently had a run-in with Housing Services when they refused to fix a broken toilet in his apartment. The situation is, for the most part, resolved now, but reached all the way to the Office of the President.

Obviously, to every story there are two sides.  Many students would likely lean towards agreeing with my “friend,” but Housing Services has an entirely different opinion that I’m obligated to present.

In presenting the other  side of the argument, will I lose this student’s trust?  I don’t know — but regardless of the outcome, I will write an objective story.

A lot is riding on this story.   In the end, I hope to emerge as a stronger journalist with the guts to cover every angle — the good, the bad, and the ugly.


One response to “You can count on me — to be objective

  1. Good post Amanda. These are the sorts of issues journalists face everyday. Most papers have a policy that reporters don’t write stories about people they know. If a friend is involved, often you hand the story to another reporter or you find a way to tell the story without using the friend as a source. Obviously, this keeps the line between advocacy and journalism clear. It also has saved countless friendships, for obvious reasons.

    I applaud your integrity. As a journalist, you must present both sides of the story Make sure your e-pal understands that before you start.

    Content: 4
    Links: 3
    Grammar: 3 It’s beside, not besides the point.

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