The Equity Pledge and Obligations of Objectivity

The Equity Pledge and Obligations of Objectivity

Thank you to the many people who read, shared and commented on my recent reporting piece for SNEWS on the CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge. I felt compelled to write it and I am sincerely grateful for the support of my editor-in-chief Kristin Hostetter. She really held my feet to the fire, insisting that despite my personal biases and emotions I remain objective and write this story with the balance it demands. As I have received several complements from both sides of this issue I take great pride in having written a story in which everyone involved apparently feels that they were heard. At least a few of the people I spoke to through the reporting process were brought to tears when they expressed their feelings about the circumstances surrounding the controversy. I for one lost a great deal of sleep as I wrestled with my thoughts in order to come to grips with not only the facts of this incident but the environment in which it occurred.

If you haven’t read this story, please STOP and read it now=>

The purpose of journalism is not to show or tell people how to think or what to believe. Good journalism is the practice of objectively providing a set of unassailable facts in a compelling manner so that readers can draw their own conclusions and perhaps raise even more questions. Through my obligation of objectivity  I struggled to set aside my own preconceived notions to better understand the things I thought I knew. I came to discover as I so often do in a thorough investigation that there is far more to this story than meets the eye. In this particular case, perhaps we can all slow down for a moment and really think about what just happened.

In scanning the comments online from those who allegedly read this story I realize that many missed the point. There are those who apparently have only embraced the facts that best support what they already believe to be true, without first assuming they might be wrong. And that makes me sad.
A moment like this calls for calm introspection, not self-righteous indignation. I believe we must take what the facts have revealed and allow them to inform our judgement to make better choices in the future. Rather than assigning blame and demanding retribution for what happened I believe instead now is the time for reconciliation and healing.

Despite the hurt feelings on both sides of this issue everyone had the best of intentions. I understand many disagree. However, my belief is grounded not in speculation or assumption, but a conclusion I have drawn for having taken the time to ask. I didn’t limit my queries into this incident to opinions pontificated upon social media. I talked to people. I made phone calls. I read articles, including one I wrote myself to understand every aspect of this story. As much as I appreciate so many people  taking my word for what I uncovered I sincerely wish that anyone who sincerely wants to know what happened would take the time to talk to those with whom they disagree.

In our rush to do the right thing or our frustration with the slow pace of meaningful progress, our efforts were poorly executed and we all made mistakes. I too am complicit in the outcome of recent events. I only hope that we can all recognize that even though we are taking different approaches, motivated by alternate factors and priorities that at times contradict one another, we all share a common goal: a world outside that is open to everyone, where all are welcome and none are afraid to venture in.