An update from Caroline F, a junior journalism and advertising major:

Caroline%3AJessica.jpg It seems everyone in Washington, D.C., has an opinion about the media. This could be attributed to the fact that one cannot exist without the other; the government needs the media to inform the people, while the media would have too much time on their hands if they were not watching the government for mistakes.

(In photo: Caroline and Jessica at the Library of Congress.)

Each of the speakers who talked to our group has his or her own opinion about whether the media do their job well. This often relates to the media’s ability to be objective.

Joe Lockhart, President Clinton’s press secretary from 1998 to 2000 and founder of Grover Park Group, said, “News is not objective; it never has been.” But he says today’s news organizations portray the news in a way that is in line with their audience’s political point of view, in contrast with only portraying the truth.

Rob Atkinson, founder of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, recently sat down for an hourlong interview and informational session with a reporter about Radio Frequency Identification products. When the reporter wrote the article, he or she did not write anything from their interview and instead only showed the negative side about the products; the story was unbalanced. Atkinson said, “There are two sides of every story.”

Both of these accounts are applicable to my life as a journalism student. It is a journalist’s responsibility to tell the whole of a story, the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. If a journalist knowingly writes a story that leaves out crucial information, journalism as an institution can receive a negative reputation.

At the Newseum, my thoughts were solidified by a quote next to the Hurricane Katrina news coverage exhibit: “People have a need to know. Journalists have a right to tell … Responsibility includes the duty to be fair. News is history in the making. Journalists provide the first draft of history.”

A journalist’s role in society is crucial, as is the government’s. Both have the responsibility to be fair and reliable. Being in Washington, D.C., has made me realize the world needs more journalists and politicians who are committed to serving the people honestly.