Unethical choice by a seasoned journalist

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 7, 2015

Every journalism school graduate has been taught repeatedly to practice good ethics in the name of journalism. As a result, aspiring journalists know the importance of reporting a story accurately.

However, one of the biggest names in journalism, Brian Williams, seems to have forgotten those ethics and instead chose to call himself a hero in a less than heroic circumstance.

Earlier this week, Williams apologized on his show “NBC Nightly News” for saying he was aboard a helicopter, which was shot down during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, contrary to former remarks describing his presence inside or near that aircraft.

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“I want to apologize,” Williams said on the broadcast. “I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft.”

However, the Stars and Stripes, the armed forces newspaper, said Williams wasn’t even close to the aircraft. Instead, Williams and his crew were in an aircraft flying in a different direction, according to Fox News.

Since 2003, Williams’ story has changed. At first, he said he witnessed an aircraft being shot down in Iraq and then the story changed to how his own aircraft was also shot down when he spoke to David Lettermen in 2013.

While Williams is one of the most trusted voices on television, who will believe him now?

Once a journalist loses credibility with his or her audience, it’s seemingly impossible to win that trust back.

Williams defended his conflicting accounts of the day’s events on a foggy memory, USA Today reported.

Foggy memory or not, anyone would remember whether their aircraft was struck by enemy fire.

Over the years, it’s possible Williams used the wrong choice of words when explaining the events in Iraq, and didn’t intend for people to interpret them in a certain way.

Even so, Williams should’ve been more careful with his words as a journalist, and owned up to what actually happened sooner rather than later.