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Journalists’ vidui

A Times of Israel editor confesses a litany of sins, from sensationalism to misleading headlines to relying on Wikipedia
Illustrative. Pile of newspapers. (iStock)
Illustrative. Pile of newspapers. (iStock)

The Yom Kippur liturgy is largely centered around the vidui, or confession, service, a roster of wrongs people are supposed to attempt to atone for. In recent years, many modern vidui services have been published, updating the litany of iniquity and targeting it at specific populations, professions, or problems. In 2016, I published a journalist’s vidui in that style, and I hereby present a second version with yet more wrongs (yes, it seems there is no end to our professional malpractice) that I and many of my colleagues might do well to right:

I have committed journalistic sins of commission.

I have committed journalistic sins of omission.

I have stolen others’ work.

I have not given proper credit.

I have not quoted women as experts.

I have not quoted Arabs or other minorities as experts.

I have wrongly attempted to pass myself off as an expert.

I have been a false prophet.

I have been haughty.

I have been a slave to preconceptions.

I have not truly listened to the other side, to those I might not agree with.

I have leveled accusations without letting the accused party respond, or with only very little time.

I have ignored information that does not comport with the thesis of my reporting.

I have let my biases seep into my work.

I have used social media as a crutch to put out things I would never put in my name otherwise.

I have been insensitive to others’ tragedies.

I have let cynicism get the best of me.

I have used puns when not appropriate.

I have made horrific, evil jokes.

My keyboard has clacked with iniquity, with wickedness, with laziness, with injustice.

I have knowingly piggybacked on others’ bad reporting for the clicks.

I have quarreled with colleagues.

I have failed to put the reader first.

I have failed to put the truth first.

I have relied on Wikipedia.

I have relied on unverified tweets.

I have helped my sources obfuscate.

I have helped the government distribute propaganda.

I have lied about who my sources are in hopes of better access.

I have been unethical.

I have not fact-checked, or only selectively fact-checked.

I have relied on canned statements and press releases rather than actual reporting.

I have copied and pasted.

I have ended pieces with “only time will tell.”

I have been quick to criticize others.

I have sloughed off others’ rightful criticism of myself.

I have fished for compliments.

I have failed to compliment others’ good work.

I have misled with photo choices.

I have misled with headlines.

I have mis-leded stories to sensationalize them.

I have broken a sacred public trust.

I have spread gossip.

I have spread rumors.

I have slandered.

I have libeled.

I have trolled.

I have failed my readers.

About the Author
Joshua Davidovich is a news editor at The Times of Israel
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