In the free missive that went out today, I summarize an interview that Wesley Lowery, one of the creators of the Washington Post police shootings database, did with the Fifth Column podcast in July 2020. In particular, I focus on his admission that he does not necessarily see the pursuit of truth as the primary role of a journalist.
Lowery and I have a very different view of the job of a journalist. I believe the job of the journalist is to find the truth and report it. Sure, there are always choices to be made about what stories to cover, what to emphasize, and so forth. But you have to have a North Star, and that guiding principle can’t be repeating potentially false narratives to the powerful to get their reaction. It has to be speaking the truth, whether that truth helps or harms people you believe to be powerless or powerful.
If a bunch of people think the system is racist, and there are good reasons to suspect it’s not, it is the job of a journalist to figure out that truth and report it.
But Wesley Lowery doesn’t even believe that to be his job.
Perhaps his preference for narrative over truth helps explain why the Post has not corrected the error in the database I told you about a few weeks ago.
I also tease a future newsletter in which I will explore what it really means to say black men are “disproportionately” the victims of police shootings.