Who are we as a people, and what roles do truth and compassion play in our behavior?
Those questions are being asked by many these days as civility appears to be wearing increasingly thin. People’s polarized positions can keep them from listening to each other, and individuals use social media to bare their souls and expose information that, in any other day and age, would make us blush.
The mark of a civil society, we believe, is its relationship with both truth and compassion. The reality is that truth without compassion can be cruel.
Simply telling the truth might be cathartic, but blurting out that you absolutely hate your best friend’s new hairstyle may not be the kindest thing you can do. We think the same standard holds true for the media.
Our mission is “Truth has a Voice.” As journalists, we realize that sometimes the truth must be balanced between what is in the public’s interest to know and what is actually private information.
For instance, publishing the police arrest report is both factual and truthful. But simply doing that and never following up to publish what happened – Were the charges dismissed for lack of evidence? Was the person found not guilty? – can leave a false impression. Reporting only a partial truth can damage a person’s reputation and ruin their chances at a job, a home or a relationship.
Including all the information we know about a mental health incident may be completely truthful but ruinous to the person who needs help.
The reality is, some words carry baggage in our society simply because of ignorance or a lack of understanding.
Consider the words “homeless,” “mental health crisis,” “alcoholic,” “drug-addicted.” Our society can assign a value to the person or a group tagged with these labels without any understanding of the circumstances that have brought about the condition.
Our view is that truth should not label. It should seek to understand.