This one’s for my fellow journalists

Published 11:20 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

Welcome to Farmville. That’s pretty much what this edition of The Farmville Herald is all about, with a special section devoted to Tuesday’s U.S. Vice Presidential Debate and everything leading up to it.

Today’s edition of the paper is geared toward visitors during these historic days. Many — most, perhaps — are journalists from across the country, even the world. When tasked with overseeing the creation of our special debate section, I immediately fell back to the basics: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why.

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One of the best journalism books I’ve ever read is Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel’s “The Elements of Journalism.” Combine their 10 tenets with the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Code of Ethics and I believe journalists can steer clear of those things for which many Americans today find fault.

So, I challenge my fellow journalists to remember:

• Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.

• Its first loyalty is to citizens.

• Its essence is a discipline of verification.

• Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

• It must serve as an independent monitor of power.

• It must provide a forum of public criticism and compromise.

• It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.

• It must keep the news comprehensive and in proportion.

• Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience.

• Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.

Similarly, the SPJ Code of Ethics reminds us to Seek Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently and Be Accountable and Transparent.

Remember these things, my fellow reporters and editors, as you cover the debate itself, inform the world about Farmville and the greater community and educate the public about Longwood University.

This is your time to shine, too.

Martin L. Cahn is the managing editor of The Farmville Herald. His email address is