Trust. It’s something we can’t do without, but there seems to be less and less of it. Neighbors, potential acquaintances, teachers and fellow citizens have all grown distant from us. We’re not sure what’s happening in the world around us, but it surely can’t be what the news is telling us. We are the critical minds. We suspect your intentions. There is only one thing we still trust blindly: our own judgment.
However, by valuing this relativity and personal experience over facts-based deduction and general consensus, we have created more grey areas than monochrome clear colored areas. Distrust and misinformation roam freely at the bottom of the gap. But when we lose our sense of trust, we should at least be careful about who we choose to distrust.
As a person who is taking steady steps in the field of journalism, yet who is too new to be corrupted, I would like to make an argument in favor of journalistic integrity. Whether it’s hard to believe or not, many professional journalists are people too. Like in most other jobs, they try to do what they do as well as possible. Now, to make things more pleasurable and less academic – because doesn’t our generation love that, too? – we’ll be working with a very tasty metaphor: my favorite cookies. Syrup waffles.
Syrup waffles (stroopwafels) are traditional Dutch cookies, and they are absolutely delicious. I have seen them sold in stores in Bulgaria and Miami, which makes me believe they are a strong (and better) competitor for Heineken beer. Like many news outlets, syrup waffles have a global audience. It’s not that they’re better than other cookies – there are very classy pastries such as macarons, and trashy treats such as coconut brownies (hate them, ugh). Fact is, everyone has their own taste in cookie catering, and their preferred branded product to trust. The same goes for your favorite newspaper.
Most bakers are very happy with our interest in their products, of course. Especially the more established and more experienced bakeries will go very far to keep up their reputation of delivering reliably tasty goods. Of course, there are some bakers that might compromise on essential ingredients and get as much revenue as possible. These bakers don’t have much to lose. All they care about is luring you in for a little while before they inevitably go under. Some of these bad bakers might make you lose hope of finding good, trustworthy cookies ever again – but no worry, they are a small and rotten minority. Most bakers (and journalists) are very dedicated: this is why they get up early every day, perform hard and long hours, and strive to deliver the best products day after day.
Besides that internal drive for perfection, every baker knows that they depend on your business to stay open. They rely on your trust. You expect every syrup waffle to taste as good as the last one, and to not kill you. There is no reason for the baker to compromise on quality and reliability, or exercise evil intent, if she wants to keep her shop. Other bakers will be sure and quick to grab up disgruntled customers if she does. Besides, even if some customers do stay – once her integrity as a pastry chef is gone, her cookies will inevitably forever be in bad taste afterwards.
I understand that reading a news article and eating a syrup waffle are, though a golden combination, fundamentally different activities. However, I do feel that both are commercial items that we consume daily on a basis of trust. This trust might be more subconscious for one than the other, but the basis is the same. For each one, there is someone out there who carefully crafted a product they thought we’d appreciate. In any case, the livelihoods of these mystifying bakers and journalists depend very much on how much their output pleases us, and if our trust in them is not wasted. They really have no interest in messing up our day. Especially since it only takes one fake cookie or one rancid article to ruin a company and drive away clients. And when it comes to you, valued and well-thinking client: always be critical of content, support what you like, and most of all – don’t forget to value its maker. They definitely value you.