Given recent events and the thoroughly unmitigated disaster than modern “journalism” has become, I suggest with take a page from the medical profession and make “Journalist”, like “Doctor”, an oath-bound profession. Hence, the Apollonian Oath.
I’m not suggesting that one should need a license to report the news, any more than non-doctors should be prohibited from rendering first aid or performing CPR. Rather, I submit that it would benefit society to elevate Journalism to the status of a legally-recognized profession and to offer sworn Journalists certain legal protections designed to make their job- seeking and reporting the truth, easier.
Apollo, as the Greek god of the revealing light of Truth (with a capital “T”), science, accurate prophesy, and rational order stands for values central to the mission of Journalism. Furthermore, Apollo is known as the leader of the Muses and Clio, the Muse of History is arguably also the Muse of Journalism. In addition, Journalism’s power to make whole or to sicken the soul of a nation is mirrored by Apollo’s association with both plagues and healing.
Perhaps most importantly, the word Apollonian is, in English, a byword for rationality, harmony, self-discipline, and the pursuit of objective Truth.
I can think of no other word that so succinctly encapsulates the qualities we desperately need to restore to our news media, or our scientists for that matter.
The Apollonian Oath
On my honor, I pledge my life to seek Truth and to share it for the benefit of humankind.
I acknowledge the terrible power of my profession to divide and destroy, and with humility I pledge to act always in benevolence and never to wield the tools of Journalism (Science) with malevolence or to inflict harm.
I recognize my fallibility and limitation. I will ever and always question my assumptions, examine and challenge my bias, and reach beyond my circle of comfort to learn from persons whose wisdom, knowledge, culture, and experiences are different from mine.
I am proud of the artistry of my trade and embrace the power of words, images, and speech (research and technology) to teach, inform, and inspire. Yet, in the performance of my duties, I shall never permit emotionality, political advantage, my career aspirations, nor the desires of my patrons to cloud the facts, conceal the truth, influence my findings, or tarnish the honor of my field.
I shall never falsify or tamper with the facts, nor adulterate those of another. I shall exercise caution and temperance in choosing my sources and methods. I shall show due restraint in ensuring I can substantiate that which I report as fact. I will always consider the broader context in which my research and reporting takes place, that I might avoid unintentionally inflicting harm upon the innocent.
I understand that my duty is unending, that each new truth I discover and report is but the opening question of a new search for enlightenment. I humbly submit that I and my fellow Journalists (Scientists) hold no monopoly upon Truth and I shall stand firmly in opposition to those who claim absolute ownership of it.
I pledge without reservation my eternal and unequivocal defense of free speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom to share knowledge and research, the right to ask questions, and the fundamental Natural rights of every person- without exception.
To this I swear my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor.
So help me, my God(s). / So help me, my colleagues.