Hey, I’m working with Poynter to advance their efforts related to journalism ethics in the new digital world, and they’ve released a new book: The New Ethics of Journalism, that’s the direct result of the Digital Ethics Symposium that I sponsored last October.
The book is co-edited by Poynter Senior Faculty Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel, Executive Director of the American Press Institute.
As is described in the Poynter blog:
“…[the book] provides an evolved set of guidelines and principles for journalists, students, and mass communicators, with chapters contributed by 14 of media’s top thought leaders and practitioners.
The book examines the unique problems of searching for trust and building trust in the 21st century: Vetting and verifying information in the vast arena of social media; the effects of interactive social media on storytelling and news gathering; the contextual meaning of stories and the value of images; and the evolving role of a community of citizen journalists and individual documentarians in the production of news.”
I really just want news I can trust.
Couple years ago, I blurted out that “the press should be the immune system of democracy.” And I still believe that.
Turns out that what we have now are a lot of ethics codes and policies, but very little accountability. This is something I often discuss when I talk about trustworthy journalism in a fact-checking-free world.
I work with Jonathan Bernstein, of Bernstein Crisis Management, and he wrote an article about “The New Ethics of Journalism.” Jonathan says:
“I have long advocated use of the SPJ’s ethics code in crisis management media relations, as leverage to persuade writers and editors to amend their copy or behavior when either appears to violate it. However, that code is a little antiquated. It doesn’t take into consideration the Internet’s immense impact on media relations of all kinds, traditional and social.
McBride and Rosenstiel’s new book finally does that.”
Here are the book’s “Guiding Principles for Journalists,” which in the book are further developed to include specific ethics practices:
- Seek truth, and report it as fully as possible.
- Be transparent.
- Engage community as an end, rather than as a means.
Folks, any news outlet that wants to succeed must be trustworthy, that is, accountable. I feel that’s required for their survival, and for national survival. More to come…
Reporters will never be as effective as they could be until they start communicating like teachers instead of entertainters. But communicating effectively is obviously not part of journalism ethics.
Consider our tax code. There has been many news reports on the tax code since the reforms of 1986 but nothing was done to stop Congress from creating at least one new tax deduction for every lobbyist in Washington, D.C. And look at the recent financial crisis. All of the pre-crisis journalism on the housing bubble and subprime mortgages were ignored by politicians and bureaucrats because the reports were ignored or forgotten by voters. And how about our crumbling infrastructure. It has always been crumbling for the past forty years of my life as a voter because our politicians don’t have and won’t have the courage to raise taxes before another bridge collapses and kills innocent people.
All of these examples could be blamed upon the voters for being too lazy to monitor their government of the people, blah, blah, But these problems could be solved if reporters would just start communicating like teachers by publishing an annual one week review of events and conditions. Which must be done if we want to improve our democracy. Because reporters are always writing about today’s most important facts, they are distracting voters from remembering yesterday’s most important facts. And most voters don’t take notes when they read a newspaper or listen to a news broadcast. These are the primary reasons why surveys by the news media,,, and interviews by comedians with people standing in line to vote, have shown repeatedly that most voters are too ignorant to vote. An annual one week review of the year’s most important facts would work like the report cards that teachers use for rewarding and punishing their students. And I think our democracy would work much better if voters had an annual report card for rewarding and punishing their politicians.
But reporters are not interested in communicating more effectively. They don’t even care about their failures to communicate. It would be easy to make my proposal profitable. The annual review could also be republished as an ebook or print on demand paperback book so voters wouldn’t have to take notes. They could just buy an annual photographic memory. However, communicating like an entertainer is more important to reporters. They don’t want to become bored by being forced to communicate like a teacher every year. The idea of journalism ethics is a sick joke.
And my comments on craigconnects dot org will be ignored because I am not a member of the suck-up club.