Friday, September 4, 2015

Give the People the Truth

Abigail Gryzik

Truth peaks out from behind the curtain
In 1952, the Reader's Digest magazine published an article called "Cancer by the Cartoon." This article told readers that smoking is indeed dangerous and should be taken seriously. The article showed readers how the effects of smoking are not a myth, and that they can kill. Of course the tobacco industry was in a deep hole, and it would need to do something about it to get out of that hole.

Photo courtesy of

As a witty solution, the tobacco industry association created the Tobacco Research Council. This group of people merely looked for ways to fight studies on the negative, life-threatening effects of smoking instead of actually "researching" as it claimed. After this article from Reader's Digest, news outlets and reporters began writing about these negative effects of smoking and how dangerous it truly is to our health, informing the public of the facts they found to be true.

Where do we draw the line?
"Advertisers should clearly distinguish advertising, public relations, and corporate communications from news and editorial content and entertainment, both online and offline," according to Principle 3 of Principles and Practices for Advertising Ethics. In the anti-smoking commercials on television, they are providing the public with truthful information to protect their health.

One of the guiding principles of the Radio Television Digital News Association’s Code of Ethics is that, “Journalism empowers viewers, listeners and readers to make more informed decisions for themselves; it does not tell people what to believe or how to feel.” I believe in these anti-smoking ads that lie between our favorite shows on television. They are informing the public of what is true, what could happen to you or a loved one, and how gruesome the consequences truly are. 

Journalism is distinguished by the characteristic, “Truth and accuracy above all,” as stated in the RTDNA’s Code of Ethics. I think there should be more advertisements for anti-smoking as there have been recently. This kind of journalism connects strongly to the emotions we have.

The Real Cost has posted these videos to YouTube and ran them as advertisements on live television. I believe in these kind of public service announcements or PSA's. But they are not only that, they are digging deeper into the news. Personally, I believe that we as journalists and public relations professionals need to keep this in mind while pursuing our careers. Whether it's frightening or not, the people deserve the truth. Let's give it to them.

1 comment:

  1. Very good example of violating the Truth value. Unfortunately too often news media don't dig deep enough to look at who is sponsors organizations that provide information, such as the Tobacco Research Council.