Transparency is vital in journalism

Published 6:19 pm Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wednesday, Columbia University officially awarded this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. The awards cover incredible journalism work, as well as other forms of writing such as music, plays and books.

In the world of “Fake News” where journalism is being ridiculed on a daily basis, the reporters who were honored Wednesday show the power of great reporting and the necessity of it.

Reporters were honored for covering the allegations against Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein as well as coverage of the California wildfires, the impact of the border wall, the heroin epidemic, the Russia investigation and more. These reporters are holding people accountable and bringing things into the light that the people highlighted would much rather remain hidden in the shadows.

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Even outside of those who won awards, there is incredible reporting going on throughout the country. One of the pieces of reporting that has impressed me the most recently is a podcast called “Caliphate” by New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi.

She covers ISIS for The Times and her new podcast details her interview with a Canadian man who joined the Islamic State before returning to Canada.

Callimachi is an investigative journalist in the truest sense of the word. She follows right behind the military units as they battle ISIS in Syria and has collected more than 15,000 pages of documents that shed light on the Islamic State like never before.

What makes her reporting the most impressive though is not simply the danger she puts herself in or the quality of her work (both of which are incredible), but her willingness to pull back the curtain on journalism.

Every time she writes a piece she uses Twitter as a vehicle to highlight the exact process she and her team went through to get to the point where they were ready to publish.

The sixth episode of “Caliphate,” which came after the conclusion of the interview, detailed the extensive months-long process of fact checking the interview. In the age of fake news and even real news being called fake, Callimachi’s reporting cannot be decried as anything but authentic because she lays bare the entire process.

As journalists, it is something we can all learn from. For big pieces and important pieces, we need to let the public in and show them the process. Even in Vicksburg, we publish a paper seven days a week and some stories are quick flips, but others like the Vicksburg Catholic School story in today’s paper require multiple days of reporting and open records requests.

So if there is ever a piece published in The Vicksburg Post with my name on it and you want to know how it was reported or why, please email me at and I will try to answer any questions, because we can’t ask others to be transparent without being so ourselves.

  Brandon O’Connor is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at