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How about news we can trust?

Here's the deal, folks – recently, the Poynter Institute held a conference regarding the restoration of journalistic ethics. They're a real big deal in professional journalism, so I helped 'em, modestly, some funding, significant social media stuff.

Me, I just want news I can trust.

Sure, I'm not in the news industry, and have no idea how to fix the problem. However, maybe we can get a good start regarding what might be the worst of ethical abuses.

Right now, "objectivity" in news means that sometimes, to pretend objectivity, a news org will bring on two sides of a story. They'll be fully aware that one participant will lie to the public. (I'm not talking about gray areas; there're lots of black-and-white clear situations.)

Similarly, news orgs will present a speaker who will lie to the public, and the interviewer will say something about "leaving it there" instead of challenging the speaker. This is what Jon Stewart calls the "CNN leaves it there" problem.

Such efforts are clearly deceptive, but not (yet) called out in the Society of Professional Journalists ethics code as bad behavior.

One step toward trustworthy news would be to declare that kind of thing unethical.

Next step would be for people in the public, people who don't want to be lied to any more, to bring light to such situations.

Might this help? Hard to say, it's sure no fix, but maybe a good start?

Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Responses »

7 Responses to How about news we can trust?

Sheila says:

I remember when I was a kid how objective the evening news seemed to be. No opinions; just the facts. Am I right, or was that just my child-like perception?

Hope you're doing well Craig. I'll never forget hearing you speak at the University of Texas at Arlington. You made an impact. :)

Ray says:

Does the SPJ code of ethics have any teeth?

How about this? Why aren't journalists subject to licensing, like doctors, psychologists, and hair dressers? It seems that they certainly have the ability to do grave public harm, and this is an area where licensing can be appropriate.

wendy says:

I've often wanted a "tag-team" approach to White House press conferences and at the last one, we came close. Many of the journalists called on asked a "follow-up" question to a question posed before. I'd really appreciate it if a journalist acknowledges that a question posed was not really answered (as happens often). Thanks for your work on this, Craig. There's a lot to be done in this area.

Mike says:

Most of the news I consume comes off of the internet. Huffpost is a favorite but I see how it often is slanted. I appreciate your interest in getting us news that can be trusted and hearing interviewees put on the spot to squirm out their real views and hold them responsible and accountable. Perhaps some kind of conglomerate of voices/sources such as Huffington Post uses and a competitor to them would be a good investment. As it is HP strikes me as a sort of web National Inquirer with a ton of junk (which many of us enjoy) alongside legit news on many fronts. I've looked over New York Times, LA Times, CNN, NPR all onling because I don't have TV nor internet service that allows streaming of a quality that would be tv-like. In other words I mostly read the news. Even short videos are difficult to enjoy because they take so much buffering it's painful to watch.

So I wonder Craig, genius that you are with web business had you thought of investing in a news site that highlighted the real thing? Newspapers are falling victim to the internet, NYTs requires online subscription after I think it's 10 article viewing per month because they have to make an income somewhere. Spotlighting truthtellers and hardline interviewers/reporters would be a site I would go to.

By the way if this is The Craig I'm responding to, I really enjoy your site, use it frequently for a number of reasons and hope you keep it the beautiful way it is.

Thanks, an appreciative user.

John says:

Pure news programs should not allow opinions to creep into presenting the facts. So called pure news programs become pimps for politicians and other special interests when they do that.

Licensing raises Freedom of Speech issues best left alone, in my opinion.

Public opinion is the best shepherd to watch over the folks in the news business, but the public needs a trusted method/model of 'keeping score' on the news outlet's purity of news . . . numbers that are verified and presented in clear 'Perot Style' charts/graphics . . . quick to understand.

The Numbers: Tallies of opinionated news reporting. Judging based on, "When in doubt, leave it out"

If a public committee says that a certain news outlet is 'slanting' the truth in one way or the other, it must have proof based on facts/numbers. Knowing that a trusted method is being used to shine light on opinion tainted news might guide some news organizations truly become pure news outlets . . . to give us pure news reporting without their opinions slanting the way it is presented. They can leave that to the 'night shows'.

Of course, we need another oversight committee to keep an eye on the . . . you got it . . . on the first level Oversight Committee! lol Boy, are we in trouble, or what?!

chris says:

The problem is simple… the government judges ruled that a corporation is considered a person. And their words were protected under freedom of speech. Hence News orgs FOX, CNBC etc can report opinions not news legally. Wich turned NEWS into one big infomercial for special interests gain.

Nicholas says:

Back in the 70s the National news and media companies were independently owned and operated when we received national news it was from 50 or so national media outlets, very objective and as honest as it could be. In the last decade or so all the outlets have been purchased or gobbled up by the Ted Turners of the industry. So in reality we have maybe 5 0r 6 media outlets herding us with the information they want to feed us. Growing up on a farm, I know once I get a cow or two heading the direction I want them to go the rest of the herd will blindly follow. Televisions are for entertainment purposes, real news is usually not caught on camera, such as reality TV is not real.