In our current political environment, it has become difficult to distinguish the difference between ‘fake news’ and respectable journalism. Many politicians, such as President Trump, have presented media producers and journalists as enemies of the people whose main goal is to spread lies and deceit. However, according to American journalist Brian Ross, this simply isn’t true. On October 25, Ross stood in front of an auditorium full of high school journalists to deliver a speech on his experiences over the past several decades in the controversial field of journalism.
“[Journalists] aren’t the enemies of the people, but we are enemies of the people who lie,” Ross said.
Ross was the keynote speaker at the Iowa High School Press Association’s Fall Conference. Each year this conference is held at the University of Iowa Memorial Union, which likely made Ross feel right at home as he is alumni of the University of Iowa.
The Pella Journalism team, made up of the yearbook, newspaper, and web staff, were among the audience. Advisor Amy Blanton was particularly excited to hear Ross speak. According to Blanton, it was inspiring to hear Ross talk about the highlights of his career.
“He is a journalist who is seeking the truth and fighting corruption. And yet, he acknowledged that he also makes mistakes,” Blanton said.
Ross has seen his fair share of scandals. Perhaps his most notable, and recent, scandal was one involving President Trump. Ross misreported information involving the newly elected president and Russia. This mistake led to Ross’s four week suspension without pay from ABC. While Ross did not explicitly mention this in his speech at the convention, he did admit all journalists make mistakes.
“I wish I haven’t made mistakes, but when you make a mistake you just have to make it right and move on,” Ross said.
During the speech, Ross outlined his long career in the industry. Ross currently works with the Law and Crime Network as the Chief Investigative Correspondent. Prior to this, Ross has worked with ABC News and NBC News. His long career has produced many major awards, including 19 Emmys. At the conference, Ross shared several of his most successful, and controversial, news stories. He spoke of his investigation regarding the murder and rape of Peace Corps volunteers. He also showed video footage of himself confronting a bishop on the Vatican’s failure to investigate allegations of rape and sexual abuse.
Despite scandals and controversy, over his career, Ross has gained the reputation for investigating stories the public doesn’t necessarily want to hear.
“I was glad my students were able to hear about Ross’s career. As an investigative reporter, he has exposed injustice and corruption,” said Blanton. “I was glad my student’s were able to see what a professional journalist could do.”