Last week Daily Lobo staff became aware of something the Editorial Board considers inexcusable and counterproductive to our mission as student journalists at the University of New Mexico.
On Oct. 12 a Daily Lobo reporter and photographer went downtown to cover the initial protest following the announcement of a mistrial in the case involving former APD officers who shot and killed homeless man James Boyd in 2014.
Afterward the photographer, who’s also the photo editor at the Daily Lobo, put some of his shots up on his personal social media accounts, two of which showed a protester — an Albuquerque Public Schools teacher — being involved in a confrontation with a driver that evening.
In a press release that went out to local media last week, the Albuquerque Police Department included those two photos, saying that it had arrested the teacher for what it deemed was criminal activity.
Included in that email release were the aforementioned two photos — uncredited to the Daily Lobo or its photo editor. As a result, various news outlets — including the Albuquerque Journal, NM Political Report and KOB 4 News — used our images in their own stories, labeling them as coming from APD.
Some of those outlets later realized the crediting error, and made the necessary fixes. But when it comes down to it, this is a matter the Editorial Board felt it needed to address, as the Daily Lobo feels that we, consisting of student journalists, played a part in APD not doing its due diligence and crediting the source of the photos correctly.
At the Daily Lobo, we consider ourselves more than student journalists — we consider ourselves professional journalists. We take it upon ourselves to get facts right, to create balanced stories of importance and to adhere to the same journalistic code of ethics that other media professionals live by. We work to uphold a reputation of objectivity. Beyond anything, we consider the Daily Lobo a place where aspiring students can make the leap to professional journalist.
But it’s instances such as this, by official agencies that serve the community, that tarnish that endeavor. How can we expect our coverage of important issues to be taken seriously when a vital department such as the APD doesn’t seem to do so? We wouldn’t be able to do our jobs if UNM administration acted in the same way, for example.
These circumstances remind us that we obviously have work to do, not just to fortify the Daily Lobo’s reputation in a city that already boasts diversity in terms of the media professionals that work here, but also in the larger fight against the stigma that faces journalists nationwide at a time when anyone can post information or photos online and call it journalism.
We will continue to work as diligently as we always have in getting relevant news out to our readership. Sometimes that means late nights, other times it means skipping class to make it to a Board of Regents meeting, and other times still it means working against the assumptions of some that we are crossing the line into territory reserved for other journalists with years of experience.
That line is nonexistent to us. We see ourselves as residing in that territory already. For the good of the community and our readership, we encourage others to view the Daily Lobo through a similar lens.
This editorial was written by members of the Daily Lobo Editorial Board, and represents the views of the newspaper. The board can be reached at email@example.com.