Ethical News Writing: How To Demonstrate Compassion For Unsavory Souls

Jun 10, 2024 by S. R. Watts

People all around the world seem to be more divided than ever before, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the United States of America. Many Democrats think that all Republicans only care about capitalistic pursuits and would destroy people’s lives and the environment to build their wealth. Many Republicans think that all Democrats hate the United States and want to promote Marxist ideologies to destroy the freedoms that made the country so great. Now, as we prepare to vote in an election that’s proving to be more polarizing than in years past, it’s left me wondering what can be done to quell the anger that is tearing this country apart.

Though I am a fiction writer by trade, I have often thought of how I could dabble in news writing to help promote positive changes in the world. As a teenager, I had an English teacher back in high school who once taught my class about the difference that ethical journalists could make on the political landscape in both the United States and around the world. Hearing how passionately she spoke on such an issue sparked my imagination on how I could report on news stories to make the world around me a better place. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that my role as a writer—both in fiction and nonfiction—was to help bring people away from the brink of extremism to help them find common ground with those they may otherwise disagree with. This would, in turn, foster unity, helping the country to come together to build a better society for everyone to live in.

Of course, I knew that such a mindset could make me a target for specific individuals in the media who are benefiting from the chaos that results from such polarizing journalistic practices—people who run major news organizations, influencers with massive followings, and tech companies that rely on divisive content to keep users engaged on their social media sites. They know that controversy is an effective tool in making people do what they want, and if they see me as a threat to their efforts, they will likely do whatever they can to destroy me. This, of course, would make anyone fear for their well-being, leaving me to question how I would respond to such unsavory individuals who would want to do me harm.

It wasn’t until I came across a quote from the prophet Joseph Smith that I finally realized what I should do: 

“When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind. … The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more are we dispos’d to look with compassion on perishing souls—[we feel that we want] to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back… if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.”

In all my efforts to become more divine, I knew what it was that the Divine expected of me. I needed to show compassion to those who didn’t know any better, to be an example to those who would otherwise have no one else to show them what it means to be a kind, considerate soul whose influence can make the world a better place for everyone, helping them to see that the greatest joy comes from forgetting about yourself and caring more about the people around you. To change the world, sometimes you have to be brave enough to go against the grain and show people that there is a better way to live life.

Regarding my efforts as a news writer, I can say that when I choose to report on an individual or an event, I will not seek to demonize those who would somehow take offense to what I have to say. I will simply tell the truth and promote a message of unity that will get readers to think about what it is they really want out of the situation being reported. Should someone seek to cancel me for my opinions or reporting, I will simply take it in stride, and I will not engage that individual unless it is to extend an olive branch. For we are all Children of the Divine, and we all deserve a fair chance to come to know Them and to become more like Them, and the peace we seek as a society starts only when we choose to see the divine potential in others.