As my time as executive editor of the East Tennessean comes to a close, I’d like to enlighten the public on a few facts about journalism. This is the truth, dear readers.

Jessica Dunker

First and foremost, there is no such thing as fake news in legitimate mainstream media. “Fake news” is only allowed to be used ironically or with heavy sarcasm. Why? Because real journalism is based around facts and interviews. Many of you think “fake news” and immediately connect it to gossip magazines or our fan-favorite media outlets like Fox News, but in reality, even though I hate both of those outlets, fake news simply doesn’t exist — slanted news perhaps. Do you have to agree with everything that’s said in the media? Absolutely not, but you must respect the perspective that’s being written, understand what content is being expressed and then come to a formal decision. That’s journalism 101.

Although humorous, not all journalists are parasites either. There are sleazy people everywhere. Do the paps bother our favorite celebrities? Yes, but I wouldn’t consider them journalists either. Do other journalists write for the sake of fame and fortune? Perhaps they do. There are plenty of people everywhere who act immorally, but we can’t consider all journalists as corrupt. Most of us are just trying to uncover the truth. It seems journalists make people nervous because of the truth they find in their answers. I’ve learned those answering questions tend to be the ones who tailor their words more than the journalist asking them questions.

Journalists should be respected. Because so many people believe journalists out for their lives, their jobs, their families and their happiness, there are so many people who are either unwilling to interact with journalists or they answer with hateful remarks. Journalists are probably the most slandered when it comes to their profession, but that doesn’t seem to stop many of these same people from reading the paper or watching the news. It turns out that many people need journalism, not because it’s fun, but because it’s essential to understanding what’s going on in this world. Imagine being left in the dark on every important event from Trump’s incessant rhetoric, to legislation, or simply what’s happening locally–good or bad.

Journalists need to be able to take criticism, laugh it off and continue to work. After all, journalists are people too, and they need to pay their bills just like everyone else. The truth is: Sometimes journalists do feel like they’re a burden to some people. We have to call people, email people, call them back because they didn’t answer and call them again the next day because they haven’t responded. It’s not because we love bothering people, but it’s because people in executive positions need to answer the public’s questions, which is what journalists call to ask. I guarantee journalists are often just as tired of calling, but we all must answer to someone.

In truth, journalism can be a lot of fun. It promotes experiencing the life as it happens, promotes meeting new people and connecting the community by the many different ties that knit us together. In the end, journalism is a profession that demands a passion for truth and for humanity. Without either, journalism would not exist, and a majority of communication would fail. Humanity needs to remain connected by any means necessary. Without it, we’re all left to guess what’s happening or what will happen next.

So here’s to the journalists. Thank you to my writers, my editors, my designers and my photographers for the continuous publication of the East Tennessean.

With all my love and admiration,

Jessica Dunker