By Harrison Neville
Throughout my childhood, my parents maintained a subscription to the Birmingham News. I never understood my father’s dedication to reading the paper each day, or why he would be annoyed if I accidentally knocked papers askew when I was grabbing the comics. In my eyes, there was no better part of the paper than the comics, and the rest of it was fairly boring.
When the Birmingham News changed its publication dates so that they only delivered print papers a few times a week, I was horrified, not because I cared about the news, but because I loved the comics and was shocked that everyone else couldn’t see the importance of delivering comics to me daily.
This disinterest with the news lasted for years, but at some point, I began to catch the newspaper bug. It started when I decided to start up a newspaper for my Cub Scout troop. The news published were really all opinion articles, but despite my lack of understanding of actual journalism, I then, perhaps unfairly, considered myself a part of the journalistic community. I slowly began to read more in the papers then just the comics. I learned to love the paper.
In high school, I attempted to join the school paper, but I never had a free period, and eventually the paper folded due to a lack of interest among students.
When I came to the University of Montevallo, I was finally able to fulfill my dreams of becoming a journalist. One of the first things that I learned was just how little I really knew about journalism.
I had no idea what AP style was or the best way to research a story. I definitely didn’t know anything about actually putting together a real newspaper.
As I became more involved, my love for The Alabamian grew. I had been interested in the idea of freelance journalism for years, but I went to college with the original intention of becoming an English teacher. After my sophomore year of college, during which I served as both distribution manager and copy editor, I began considering the notion of taking on journalism as a career. By the end of junior year and my stint as Managing Editor, I was confident that I wanted to be a journalist.
Unfortunately, as my desire to take up a career of journalism grew, so also grew my awareness of the distrust that many Americans now have towards journalists. The last few years have seen a steady decline in the public’s trust in honest journalism. To a certain extent, I view this as understandable, since I certainly have seen various examples of misinformation put forward by those who claim the moniker of journalist.
Still, I have found this distrust not only saddening, but deeply disturbing. It is the role of the journalist to keep the public informed, and the fact that many no longer trust journalists to do so means that they may be more susceptible to lies from other, less reputable sources.
I accept that there is very little that I can do change the minds of those of you who have had your faith in journalists shaken.
All I can tell you is what I promise to do and then follow through on my promises.
So here it is.
I promise that so long as I am Editor in Chief of The Alabamian, myself and my staff will work hard to keep all our readers informed. I promise that we will thoroughly research stories and present readers with fair coverage of events. I promise we will listen to your voices and give opportunities to a diverse group of people to make their views heard. Perhaps most importantly, I promise that should we make a mistake, we will own up to it and do our best to correct it.
Of course, there are some things that I cannot promise you. Predominately, I cannot promise you that you will always like the articles that we publish. I hope that you will like what you read, but I do not believe that we would be doing our duty as journalist if the only articles we published were articles that our readers agreed with.
The role of a journalist is to be a public servant to the community, even when they themselves do not want that service. To that end, while we may not always present you with the stories that you want to hear, you can be assured that we will do our best to give you the stories you need to hear.