I have no problem with journalists having religion, lots of great journalists have been religious. I don’t even have a problem with that religion interfering with the work they do as long as they write for religious publications of some kind. I don’t have a problem with it because the agenda of said publication is well known.
What I do have a problem with is when journalists at supposedly independent publications let their religious convictions get the better of them. I have a problem with that because it is a breach of the journalism code of ethics. For those that aren’t familiar with it, there are many versions but the core values are always more or less the same.
“Truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accoutability”
These are the principles of journalism. Now, when a journalist says something like “Most atheists commit suicide”, that’s a problem. It’s a problem for many reasons. First of all, it’s not true. It’s a gros misrepresentation of statistics, thus failing the first and second principle. It also puts the journalists objectivity and impartiality in question, thus failing principle three and four. Whether or not it’s fair is not even an issue at this point.
It’s even more of an issue when the journalist then tries to remove all evidence it ever happened to avoid the last principle, public accoutability. If this was a made up example, or came from a journalist at some little circulated obscure magazine, I wouldn’t care, but this is straight from the mouth of Al-Arabiya journalist Nada Altuwaijri.
Here’s her original tweet. She didn’t delete it until I questioned her. She was cordial enough at first, even going so far as saying she was proud of being a member of the Al-Arabiya journalistic staff. I thought it was a bit odd so I questioned the “most” part first, after all, most is more than 50%, surely Nada has a source to back her claim? She is a journalist after all and checking your own facts is more or less journalism 101. Nope. Not even close. But wait, it gets better. Much better, because Nada didn’t mean suicide, oh no. She meant genocide which is evident from her next tweet.
This is pure comedy genious. See, the only thing these people have in common is that they did, through their actions, cause a lot of deaths. Of course, Stalin and possibly Jim Jones, are the only ones who were really atheists and Jim Jones is the only one to actually commit suicide. Mussolini was murdered, Joseph Stalin, and Napoleon both died of illnesses. The least she could have done was make sure they were all atheists but she failed even that. My dear lass, surely the only right thing to do is to publicly apologize for this… incident?
But, she didn’t. Instead, she did the mature thing, deleted all tweets and tried pretending it never happened, thus failing her sixth and last ethical principle, public accountability. Congratulations Nada Altuwaijri on violating every single principle you’re supposed to uphold and congratulations to Al-Arabiya for allowing such things to pass entirely unnoticed.
Ask yourselves this, would the career of any journalist have survived this had the word “atheists” been replaced with “muslims” or any other world religion? I highly doubt it.