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  • THERE'S NOT MUCH SENSE in criticizing the narrative-pushers who call themselves journalists these days. What works best is to ignore them; everybody else is. Nonetheless, you might find this comparison of journalistic approaches interesting.

The first is the Indianapolis Star’s guidelines for gathering “news” published last month. The second was written in 1914 by the first dean of my journalism school.

The Indianapolis Star Pledge

We will do a better job of listening. When it comes to writing and understanding how major crises affect us, we will ask, prod, initiate the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and relentlessly pursue transparency for you. We will consistently cover issues and draw a spotlight on the many Black and brown and other diverse readers who live here, too. As part of those efforts, IndyStar is increasing the number of stories it is writing each month in Spanish. Our diversity committee is an integral part of our newsroom. And they have asked for training on how to navigate sensitive topics that impact our LGBTQ communities, everything from how to inquire about a person’s gender to how we present certain groups in photos. The Walter Williams Creed

I believe in the profession of journalism. I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust. I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism. I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true. I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible. I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends. I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service. I believe that the journalism which succeeds best – and best deserves success – fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.

Indiana Policy Review (2021)