The author was right when she wrote those lines. Writing is indeed a noble and difficult profession for it entails big responsibilities. It involves sound judgment because many times, the writer must weigh between putting story to words or keeping it to himself. Truth, accuracy and balance must always be the guiding principles of those who write articles, columns or news stories.
Today, there are may broadsheets and tabloids competing to publish stories everyday. In mathematics they say that big numbers are good. However, that isn't always true in media. Sometimes big numbers only add confusion to the current issues the government and the people are talking about. Sometimes, in emotion-filled moments, the tendency of writers to express their personal views and provide biased slants instead of reporting news and stories as they are is given more leeway.
Perhaps that's because writers are also human beings prone to prejudice and errors. However, if such bias and errors are intentional on the part of the writer, the reading public must be intelligent enough to distinguish the truth from the invented stories.
If a sword has sharp edges to inflict wounds on individuals, words sometimes inflict more harm, especially if it is used to heap contempt on another person.
That is why a writer must always choose the proper words in his writings. He must not use his facility with words to destroy imagined enemies.
News writing must always present the two sides of the story. If the other side is not available for comment, it must be explicitly stated in the story. The writer must try his damn best to present the side of the other party in his next report. This is journalism's basic rule. If the source of the story asks for confidentiality, such request should be honored by the writer even if he goes to jail to protect his source. It is better to land in jail than to lose credibility. After all, newspapers and journalists live first and foremost on credibility.
Thus, if an error appears in the story, the correction or erratum the next day should logically appear in the same page where the story appeared. Comments for or against the story must merit the same level of attention from the writer. That's fundamental fairness.
Writing is both a privilege and an honor, if only proper care, scruples and standards are followed. The moment personal concerns and vested interests appear in the picture, writing is sure to be desecrated.
( Article written by Alvin L. Laurente which appeared on page A13 of the Philippine Post, April 14, 2000)