Opinion: Journalists must be brave, right and humble
What’s in a headline?
Joy. Stanley’s Back or Ours Again for the Red Wings.
For the opening of Comerica Park: New home, new hope . (We are still hoping for that new hope.)
Dewey defeats Truman. (Ouch. Sorry, Chicago Tribune.)
And, yes, my paper The Detroit News launched a NASA rocket on deadline when it was in fact scrubbed. (Double ouch.)
Now the New York Times is being blasted by Democrats for being, well, objective. You can’t do that these days.
The headline read: "Trump urges unity vs. racism."
It was promptly changed to: "Assailing hate but not guns."
The Times apologized. Apologized? For what, being objective?
This is an era where no one, repeat, no one — from your aunt to your uncle — apologizes for putting the craziest things on Facebook, right and left, for all their friends to cheer or deride.
Do we expect more from the media? Not any more.
I do feel sorry for the copy editor who wrote the Times headline. She or he must be over 60. Or was not part of the seminar on Search Engine Optimization — making sure Google grabs your headline.
I teach future reporters at local colleges how to write headlines. I tell them all about SEO and analytics and blah, blah, blah. But at the end of the day I tell them they have to live with themselves, to be fair and balanced. (Yes, we used those words long before Fox News.)
I hope for the media’s sake that we have the guts to not let others sway us in our First Amendment duties. We have to be the sane voice between the right and light so people will still believe us. Give in, and we have lost all credibility.
Times editors, you are spineless. Sorry.
As an editor, I always figured that if both sides hate us then we are doing our job. We do not kowtow, but we admit when we know we are wrong. No matter how it hurts our egos.
I will continue to tell a new generation of journalists to be brave and to be right, but to be humble when we do wrong.
It is our First Amendment duty.
Bill McMillan is a retired Detroit News assistant managing editor. He teaches journalism at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.