After embellishing numerous facts regarding his helicopter being fired upon in Iraq in 2003, NBC has decided to suspend Williams for six months without pay.
However, the severity of his lies should unquestionably result in termination.
Williams has since been under fire for allegedly lying about numerous stories he has covered throughout his career. Embellishments or blunt lies, either way, it’s apparent Williams has not been truthful with his reporting.
The most confusing part about Williams’ scandal is the lack of accountability from NBC. The first issue is that if a reporter is found embellishing the truth, why was it so difficult to fact check him?
Fact checking is the accountability all journalists must adhere to because reliability and accuracy is the main priority in the field of journalism.
Who was in charge of making sure all the facts were correct and why did the lies go on for so long? The editors obviously weren’t doing their jobs.
Williams is, in every way, shape and form, responsible for his actions, but in retrospect, the editors either failed to fact check properly or decided to ignore the lies that were told.
The second issue arising with NBC is the seemingly light sanction placed on Williams. NBC slapped Williams’ hand with a ruler, told him to sit in the corner for six months, and will resume all business as usual, hoping everyone will forgive and forget.
The role of a journalist is to find the truth and report the truth. Ultimately, that’s the golden rule a journalist must live by.
Failure to comply with the ethics of the press should result in severe and career-ending consequences.
When a journalist’s credibility is damaged, it’s rare to regain viewers’ trust ever again. The audiences look to newspapers, magazines and broadcast news to receive impartial and truthful information about the world. A reporter’s sole duty is to report true and trustworthy facts.
Understanding a journalist’s obligation to tell the truth, Williams’ six month suspension isn’t a sufficient punishment.
Although this isn’t nearly as outrageous as the Stephen Glass scandal in the ‘90s, the two are still rooted in the same vein.
There is no benefit in allowing a man who is now seen as untrustworthy and unreliable back in the public arena.
He made the choice to break the ethics code of journalism and deceived the audience of the truth in order to further his career.
The news should undoubtedly remain an unbiased and untampered information outlet. Any person who chooses to compromise the platform should be dismissed and ostracized.