When something tragic happens on Fairfield’s campus, it is hard to find three degrees of separation between yourself and the event. This means that as the University’s student newspaper, it becomes a very sensitive matter to cover. Though have an obligation to cover news on campus, our responsibility is not to sensationalize tragic news only for the benefit of journalism.

As journalism students we are taught to write honestly and unbiased. Nonetheless, it is one thing to sit in a journalism class and learn the importance of being factual, accurate and timely, but yet another when real misfortune happens on campus and human emotions must be separated from journalism responsibilities.

Fairfield is a small school and an email quickly becomes conversation. Text messages are sent and rumors begin to spread in a matter of minutes as people try to find out as much information as possible. Discerning the truth becomes tough as people generate their own information among friends.

As journalists, we want to break the story, but not at the price of misinforming the public. This means that we must wait for confirmation from authorities and check facts through and through before we can publish.  Thus, we can’t help but see similarities between covering our own tragedy on campus and the media’s coverage of the shootings in Arizona last week.

When an important story breaks, news sources all race to cover the story, yet readers and viewers find multiple different stories. National Public Radio released the story that Gabrielle Giffords was killed while The New York Times reported that eight were killed in the Arizona shooting, which are both incorrect pieces of information. As innocent and naïve readers get a hold of this news they become misinformed, which consequently spirals into a domino effect of possible consequences.

Big news sources like The New York Times, MSNBC and Fox News work around the clock reporting and publishing news on the Internet. With sites like Twitter and Facebook, news is thrown out into the world for anyone’s eyes to read, and when that news is wrong the source loses credibility.

Here at The Mirror, we follow trending news and report on campus news each week. Since the campus is a secure place and Fairfield is a safe town, we’re rarely ever the source to break the news, unless there’s a shooting at The Sea Grape. However, when we have the opportunity to cover an important story that’s close to home, we strive to bring readers the news that is bias-free and without a slant. The media needs to stop taking sides and start getting back to its purpose of serving the people.

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