What Duties Have Journalists

This article was originally published on the European Journalism Center’s Magazine section, and was republished on Atticus Mullikin’s Newsvine column.

In a major world religions class in college, the teacher used the opening scenes of the secular film Jerry Maguire to introduce us to the concept of epiphany. For those who haven’t seen it, the protagonist, Maguire, begins as a rich and successful sports agent, aggressively pursuing clients, all smiles and pretence and talk. After he tries to convince the son of a client that the kid’s father should keep playing sports despite four concussions, he asks himself, “Who had I become? Just another shark in suit?” He breaks down in a hotel room and writes a mission statement for his company that proscribes less clients, less money, and more attention to the people his firm represents – in essence, ethical business. The epiphanic moment – and the reason our teacher showed us the clip – was when Maguire finishes his mission statement and realizes, “Suddenly, I was my father’s son again.”

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