Lynda is a small business owner and writer living in Florida.
What Happened to Journalistic Integrity?
In 2012, one of The New York Times editors, Arthur Brisbane, asked readers should journalists seek the truth behind the stories they cover. He wrote:
“I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”
My first and immediate reaction was: You have to ask? I had always thought that to be a reporter’s job. Indeed, we are not only reliant on reporters to give us full, complete, unbiased facts in their coverage, but as a society, we have become conditioned to accept their reported stories as the truth. From where else are we to receive information on our world and its workings?
Bad enough that the source of news for most of us has become the point-of-view arm wrestling that passes for journalism on competing cable “news” networks; bad enough even the straight news is now delivered in a biased manner by anchors playing the role of a journalist complete with opinionated editorial remarks, despite their many near-hysterical claims to the contrary; bad enough the news we receive is filtered through the ideology of the news organization; bad enough news must now be entertainment—now, editors of major news publications have to ask, “Should we be printing the truth?”
YES! Yes, yes, and yes, Mr. Brisbane, you should certainly be presenting the truth and in case you’re unfamiliar with that word, here is the big question:
What Is the Truth?
The answer lies in the facts, sir, nothing but the facts and all the facts.
Whatever happened to who, what, where, when, and why? When did reporters forget that old maxim of the newsroom: If your mother says she loves you, check it out? Didn’t you know reporters should never take anything at face value?
Should reporters challenge facts asserted by newsmakers? Yes, they should. They have a responsibility, an obligation to do so. It is their job.
Unless you, Mr. Brisbane, are content that the New York Times and all other such publications become nothing more than a container for ad copy, then by all means, just paraphrase everything and everyone and print innocuous press releases verbatim without question or investigation.
But then, why would we need you?
“I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people.” – Joseph Pulitzer
From the Society of Professional Journalists—Code of Ethics
Report it. Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
- Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
- Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
- Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
- Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
- Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
- Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
- Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
- Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
- Never plagiarize.
- Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
- Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
- Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
- Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
- Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
- Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
- Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
- Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
- Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
- Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
Facts in Context
In his article, Brisbane went on in a contemplative vein, mulling over what constitutes such dubious facts for a paragraph or two, then gave an example:
“... on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches "apologizing for America," a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing that politics has advanced to the "post-truth" stage.”
Were Krugman's actions as a reporter an example of good ethics when he challenged Romney’s statement, appears to be Brisbane’s question.
The answer is no. Paul Krugman is a columnist, writing opinion, not news (though these days, it’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference) and as such is free to not only write whatever is on his mind but to tell us how he feels about it. It then behooves us to decide if Mr. Krugman’s opinion is worthy of being read, and to either agree or disagree.
A reporter, on the other hand, is supposed to give us the facts of a story, devoid of opinion.
In this case, that Mr. Romney’s said the president often apologizes for America is a fact. Romney is on the record using these very words. However, this is only Mr. Romney’s opinion and in itself, not necessarily a fact.
So here is where Mr. Brisbane’s question comes in. Should a reporter challenge Romney’s words and investigate their veracity? Is it enough to report what Mr. Romney said, or should the reporter check whether or not President Obama ever did apologize for America?
I did a thorough search and found not one instance where President Obama ever used the word “apologize” in a speech about America, the nation’s foreign affairs, or history.
This is called providing contextual facts—the background information needed to understand and reach an informed conclusion—without which the reader may be misled. I’m willing to bet there are very few readers who will take the time to do such research on their own. Most will read the story and decide if Romney said it and the newspaper printed it, it must be true.
But it is not true. Any assertion that Obama has apologized for US actions rests on a personal interpretation of the president’s words—to put it kindly. (After all, a reporter doesn’t want to call Romney a liar—that would be an opinion.) What a reporter can and should do is insert a paragraph giving the context: President Obama has never used the word apologize in any speech about US policy. It is then up to the native intelligence of the reader to reach his own conclusions.
That is why we desperately need context. We want, no need the complete picture.
“Whenever people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government.” —Thomas Jefferson
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers, and each other.
- Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
- Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
- Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
- Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
- Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
And the Readers?
In following this mind-baffling story, I was somewhat heartened by the comments from readers:
"When did truth-telling and fact-checking become novel ideas?"
"This post from NYT Public Editor should be put on the wall of a museum to explain contemporary US journalism."
"Is the NY Times kidding? Are they really asking people if they should act like journalists or not. What a disaster."
"I hope you can help me, Mr. Brisbane, because I'm an editor, currently unemployed: is fecklessness now a job requirement?"
“…the Times should behave like an advocate for the readers, rather than a stenographer to politicians.”
So I was not alone in assuming the newspapers already did do some serious fact-checking before going to print. What a revelation and a disillusionment to find out not only did they not, but an editor, none the less, asks if they should. (Where is Bob Woodward when you need him?)
What is so revealing about Brisbane’s question is that he does not understand, as we will find in his subsequent clarifications?
"What I was trying to ask was whether reporters should always rebut dubious facts in the body of the stories they are writing. I was hoping for diverse and even nuanced responses to what I think is a difficult question." —media blog JimRomenesko.com
"My inquiry related to whether the Times, in the text of news columns, should more aggressively rebut 'facts' that are offered by newsmakers when those 'facts' are in question. I consider this a difficult question, not an obvious one." —NY Times website
Wrong again, Mr. Brisbane. This is not a hard question, at least from the readers’ perspective. We don’t care about the thin-line differences between weaseling and out and out lies. We want journalists to limit the ability of politicians and others to make dubious statements (read falsehoods) and get away with it. Most of us did not understand this wasn’t the newspaper’s mission in the first place.
Yet to be fair, in some aspects, we, the readers, are equally to blame. How many of us read the full spectrum of sources required to have a comprehensive view of our society necessary in these ideologically-themed-news-provider days? Don’t most of us watch or read only those that tell us what we want to hear, ignoring the rest as “wrong” and “biased?” Do we question? Do we demand truth, or simply join the club, whichever club best reflects our prejudices and preconceptions? Many of us don’t want the truth, couldn’t handle it if it landed in our laps.
But let’s visit utopia and say the media has changed and gives us the truth in the form of facts, full facts and only facts, doing away with the editorial teams that follow each story, telling us what to think. Why then, the media—press and electronic—would be treating us as what we are: full participants in the process rather than spectators—informed, discerning, and intelligent enough to come to our own conclusions.
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.
Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.
Sounds Like Paradise—Why Is Paradise Lost?
Being one who does watch a wide variety of “news” programs, who searches out journals of all points of view on the net, who weighs, considers and thinks beyond what I’m spoon-fed, I have become dubious of all news. I am a paranoid, seeing propaganda behind every word.
It shouldn’t be so. I should expect certain neutrality and an obsession with the truth proven through facts from my news sources. I shouldn’t have to go to so many sources to get the full picture. I shouldn’t have to research beyond the story to find the truth.
“He said, she said” doesn’t cut the mustard, Mr. Brisbane. Simply reporting the words without context is irresponsible journalism at its worst. Never mind such practices are commonplace; the trust placed in your profession by the society you serve demands better.
Where do such shiftless journalistic practices take us? Think of the fifties, Mr. Brisbane, and the McCarthy era, when a blind-eyed press printed his accusations about “card-carrying communists” with no checking of the facts behind such charges. Yes, McCarthy did say so-and-so was a threat to the nation – his saying so was a fact; what he said was most often not. Your profession dutifully disseminated his lies and merely ran the accused’s denials, and thereby aided and abetted in the ruin of hundreds of lives based on nothing more than innuendo and out-and-out falsehoods.
Damn right journalists should challenge the words spoken by public figures!
And we the readers, or at least those of us with intelligence enough to want the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth) should rise up in anger at such a question, demanding you do the job you’re paid to do, that you should have been doing all along.
“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.” —Oscar Wilde
Kelley on October 08, 2019:
I certainly can't find anyone who wants the truth ......
Larry Wall on May 24, 2015:
Another Hub sent to back here, and I want to comment on thing. If President John Doe says he is by executive order eliminating the income tax effected tomorrow, then that is a fact because it was a statement made by an elected official. The statement as a group of words is a fact. It will be recorded in history. The validity of the statement is not the primary issue. The reporter has to report what the President said. It would be great if he found lawyer who was an expert in constitutional law say that may be the President's desire, but he does not have the authority to do it, and the order would be challenged in the Supreme Court and . . .Sometimes a reporter can only report what the President, Representative, Senator, Governor, Mayor, Police Chief, says. The hard part is to find a credible source to back up that fact or dispute it and give reasons, other than his own personal opinion, as to why the statement is wrong. Unfortunately, that takes time. Meanwhile, the original statement is all over the Internet being sent around the world, and every left-wing and right-wing talk show show host will put in their two cents worth. Eventally, someone will get around the checking the facts. Thus, people in authority know they can say things that will arouse the public and gain some traction while responsible journalists try to find sources that have the knowledge and stature to dismiss it.
We all want to know everything, and we want all the facts immediately--unfortunately, that is not going to happen in our present system.
Thus, we are back to the old adage, "Don't believe everything you hear," often it is a rumor, a lie or a tremendous misunderstanding.
Reporters should not allow sources to review stories, unless they are a highly technical nature--scientific, biological, etc. The typical political story, even an interview given by the President, does not have the right to be reviewed by the person being interviewed or his staff. If they say they will not answer any questions, unless that can review the story, then the reporter has a story. "Senator XYZ recently agreed to be interviewed regarding activies in his committee. However, he insisted on ther right for he and his staff to review the story and possibly made some 'clarificfations' before the story is published. THis paper or network will not do that if they can find errors made by the reporter, a correcton will be printed. If the Senator just does not like the story, we will remind him that with a Free Press, he is free to offer his own version."
As I said in a comment to another Hub, every television reporter should have to spend two years in a newspaper internship where he cannot get by with a 90 second report.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on December 10, 2014:
I agree with you. The news should simply report the facts -- the facts, ma'am, just the facts -- and leave the opinions to their viewers. These days it's just another part of the brain-washing. Thanks for commenting.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 26, 2014:
I'm glad I found this. My husband are discussing this now over morning coffee here in Hanoi. Once, he was so upset, he threw bread on Wolf Blaster as he calls him. It is good we have NHK, a Japanese television channel that does news here and it isn't excited reporting not meant to work up the audience. It is reporting and not editorializing. Of course, there is a bias towards Japan and Asia in the selection of the news but that is to be expected. EuroNews is another one. They just sometimes show pictures and put No Comment on it. I am not American but many times the news we get from some US channels has less to do with reporting reality that with trying to defame POTUS.
H C Palting from East Coast on December 31, 2013:
I'm no doctor either but you are right, it has been proven that being cold does not cause colds or flu, yet he said it for hundreds of thousands if not millions to see. What he said on the air has been studied and remains unproven. I find it troubling because he has said incorrect information on air that only allows the misinformed to further believe myths such as believing that physically being cold causes the colds or flu. From my decades of figure skating, I can attest to the fact that being cold and cold air do not cause colds and flue. Also, I've actually skating gone thousands of times over a couple decades with my long hair wet from a quick shampoo! I was just astounded that he would and did put that incorrect information out there on the air.
Larry Wall on December 31, 2013:
That is the biggest problem between spoken news and written news. Items that are written can and should be reviewed. However, once something is spoken live on air, it is gone and it, like something on the Internet is out there forever.
Being cold does not cause colds or the flu, as far as I know, but that is an opinion since I am not a doctor.
H C Palting from East Coast on December 31, 2013:
I just had to come back and comment again. Recently, a METEOROLOGIST stated that weather causes the flu. YES, you read that right. He did so during a quick session of chit chat when the news anchors mentioned a story about the flu. He is not a pathologist, biologist, or MD and has simply given another excuse to the lazy to not do all they can to prevent getting sick or spreading it to others. He stated his opinion on air that can negatively affect people's health and there has been absolutely no retraction or correction given by the t.v. station for this METEOROLOGIST's statement that has no validity in the medical/scientific communities.
Larry Wall on December 30, 2013:
I am mostly in agreement with you. However, sometimes, journalists are in a no-win situation. If a candidate is speaking at a public event and makes a false or foolish statement, it has to be reported as part of the speech. The reporter cannot say or write that the remark was wrong or foolish. Now, the reporter can find another source who can dispute what was said, provided he has more than his opinion. This takes time and with the competition of 24 hour news coverage, time to get the story on the air, especially if the comment was live, is usually defined by the talking heads in the studio.
I do not like the process. CNN has a fact checking segment it does sometimes, but that is after the fact. It would seem that the networks could have enough personnel on site so that when a false, misleading or improper comment is made, a reporter is free to search our someone who can offer a counterview or an explanation. Unfortunately, despite the increase presence of news reporting, television editors have not yet realized what use to be done when we had the 6 p.m. news and the 10 p.m. news. Thus, errors get reported and not corrected.
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on December 30, 2013:
It's very frustrating to see reporters, especially on evening TV news programs, simply show clips of what competing politicians said when the reporter knows that what is being said by one or the other is completely false. That is not "reporting"! I'm not talking about instances "when those 'facts' are in question." I mean the many times in the last several election cycles where claims were made that anyone conversant with the facts knew to be false, but which many viewers or readers would not have the context to effectively evaluate. To me, that common practice by news organizations is a major contributor to the fractured politics we suffer from today. When a news report puts a known lie on the same plane as truthful statements, it does a violent disservice to our democracy. Good hub!
Larry Wall on November 03, 2013:
Like most institutions, journalism is going through one of its transformation period. During the 1920s and 30s, journalism was a game of sensationalism. Every large city had numerous newspapers. I think New York had more than a dozen at one time. So instead of competing wit 24 hour news, they competed with sensationalized headlines and very little fact checking. I am glad my newspaper career happened with the daily paper was something people look forward too and I did not have to compete with talking heads. Today, as I said, the media is lazy. Someone finds a topic and that is the topic everyone covers.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 03, 2013:
Thanks for the comment, Larry. I agree with all you say, but can't help feeling the problem is deeper than this. I've reluctantly come to the conclusion one should view all "news" with a cynical eye, that the once worthy Fifth Estate is now nothing more than an Orwellian tool for the powers-that-be.
Larry Wall on October 30, 2013:
The media has gotten lazy. As a former reporter, I can make that observation. Newspapers cannot compete with 24 hour news stations for immediate coverage. Depth reporting still works best in the print media. However, people, because of the Internet, social media and the like, want everything in 150 words or less. Thus, to keep advertisers and stay in business, the media, print and broadcast, is giving the people what they want, or at least what they think they want. A few hard-hitting stories about city hall, local taxes and schools, which cannot be told in a 1 minute TV spot, could bring some life back to the print media.
Crin Forbes from Michigan on October 30, 2013:
I am not saying that I agree with this attitude, unfortunately this is the way it works.
It's been a long time since I quit taking the news outlets seriously... The best way to find out what is going on in the world, is browsing the net...
I do my share of dissipating news when I see them developing... I remember a year ago, I probably was the first person to blog about the "vagina rally" in Lansing Michigan. It all started around ten thirty while I was watching my dog in front of the capitol and I noticed two women and their children, holding up signs: "vagina is not a dirty word". I stopped to ask what was going on. I ran home and wrote a piece about the story. I went back to the capitol around one in the afternoon. People were coming down, however the first news outlet I saw was about four thirty in the afternoon, and no one mentioned anything in Lansing, until around six during the local news.
That night at the rally there were about five thousand people, some of them coming from out of state.
The longest coverage was for about thirty seconds on the major networks...
Personally, I think that your piece on the deficit should come out front page on some mainstream media, however it will probably never make it, because you left the distraction and the entertainment part out and you wrote too many words for the average American to read...
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on October 30, 2013:
"the truth is boring, so long live whatever we pass for news"...
Well, you can go and enjoy your distractions, demanding to be entertained -- certainly you're free to do so. Meanwhile, I'll try to keep myself informed as to what is happening in the world.
Crin Forbes from Michigan on October 30, 2013:
Is really anyone who buys the news interested in truth? It seems to me that all we want to find out in the news is entertainment. The truth is boring, so long live whatever we pass for news...
Larry Wall on March 23, 2013:
I just ran across your hub today, and it is excellent. I am a former newspaper reporter who went into public relations and is now unemployed. We are talking about a 40 year span. I am dismayed by the national media today. I get my news from a variety of sources, and I am always dubious of the old "sources say" or comments that no opposing view can be found on the Internet. I can always find the opposing view. The news community needs to wake up and get back to their roots of reporting the news and not trying to be a source of intrigue, mystery or entertainment.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on April 07, 2012:
Hi Peg -- Yes, I'm sure that any first hand experience with the media will most likely change your views and shake your confidence. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Marcy -- Your colleague's thesis sounds very interesting: the impact of public opinion on news. But how about the converse: the impact of news on public opinion? Seems to me this is by far the most dangerous and indeed, the most prevalent. I am sure that many of us hold opinions spoon-fed by the so-called news. Thanks for commenting here and sharing your first-hand experience.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on April 07, 2012:
Lynda - you bring up some important points here. A fellow student in my grad-school program did her thesis on the impact of public opinion (even if spun) on the news. I fear we are at an increased risk of losing the historic role of news media as watchdogs over fact and truth as the ever-growing entertainment factor in 'news coverage' continues.
I used to gave many interviews to the media in various positions. I came from a print background, and I admit I am biased toward it. All too often, TV reporters tried to put words in my mouth through leading or slanted questions. One came up with complete fiction one time, stuck a mic in my face and said, "So you're saying these people illegally blah-blah-blah -"
I said, "No, that's not what I said at all," at which point her cameraman nearly dropped his equipment while laughing. My point is - those years taught me that TV journalism can sometimes be far more staged than people realize.
Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on March 25, 2012:
A couple of years ago a friend's daughter's house burned to the ground due to spontaneous explosion of a car housed in their garage. I was astounded by the local news coverage which distorted the home owner's statement (I knew her Mother and the way they truncated the daughter's words was criminal). It made me question all the news from that point forward. If one has to ask if the truth or facts are necessary, then that says it all.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 14, 2012:
Not only are facts spun into marketable fiction, but other facts are supressed entirely. Look at the lack of coverage of the world in US media reporting -- except of course, for the exaggerated and biased covering of those countries in which the US is involved: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. The rest of the world does not exist, or is deemed less important than the painful minute by minute reporting of the latest candidates. As a result, Americans are abysmally ill-informed or mis-informed about the rest of humanity. Thanks for commenting.
H C Palting from East Coast on February 12, 2012:
Thought provoking article. I have come to understand how tainted and biased the media is with a professional athlete I've known for 20 years and in the case of another friend's death. Their facts are spun into fiction to suit their tastes and actually revealing the truth is not apparently what they stand for any longer. Good hub.
Tonja Petrella from Michigan on January 27, 2012:
As always, an absolutely superb article. I'm always amazed just with our small local paper and television news statons. Not only do they tell "partial truths", they allow politics to dictate what they do or do not report on. I'm only intimately aware because I worked for our local municipality and witnessed the travesty over and over again. The public is misinformed and misguided. I can only imagine what it is like in larger cities. Voted up and awesome.
Beth on January 26, 2012:
What a world when a so-called journalist must ask if his readers want the truth. No, Mr. Brisbane, we love being misinformed. Keep up the lousy work.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 26, 2012:
Hi Thomas, Thanks for returning. Have you read The Myth of the Liberal Press? Actually, your second to last statement is addressed in my next hub: Freedom of the press: a mortally wounded myth? which no one seems to be interesting in reading. Which tells me a lot right there! As to Fox, their very existence seems to propaganda to me. I particularly love the segment: Around the World in 80 Seconds (talk about in depth....) Sigh! Oh well. Maybe you'll go read the next one and comment. Lynda
ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on January 25, 2012:
I spent the last five days or so in a hotel room and spent a good time of it watching Fox News...i know...I know...same as a train wreck...anywho...
Every conservative 'commentator' (note...not a journalist) was complaining at how the LEFT wing media demeans them...puts their values up to ridicule...that it was their belief that the right didn't have to participate in the normal vetting of the news media. It was (to my mind) crazy paranoia.
This was all against the backdrop of Newt Gingrich's push back in the South Carolina debate regarding what he called a "gotcha" question. A definite hostility towards the media was shown in the reaction to the crowd at the debate...and the election results.
Sarah Palin is petrified of answering a real question from a real reporter. Sharon Angle (a local conservative congressional candidate here in Nevada) actually said, "she would tell us her foreign policy ideas AFTER we elect her to the Senate and not before to the media." She then fled the very press conference she called.
I think the search for truth shouldn't be as hard as you have accurately described. The consolidation of media ownership, however, requires an ever expanding search for ever more obscure sources to get the 'full' picture.
Mr. Brisbane should be making it easier for us!
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 20, 2012:
Hi Capricorn -- you'll get no argument from me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if just once someone turned to Romney and said, "When exactly did the President apologize for America?" And why didn't that happen? Now, understand, to me the point has nothing to do with Romney or the President, but simply uses this as an example of how our media has let us down. Thanks for the comment. Lynda
capricornrising from Wilmington, NC on January 20, 2012:
Amen, amen, and AMEN. The only "job" I ever had as a journalist was as Editor-in-Chief of our award-winning high school newspaper (grin), but I like to think that I came away from that exceptional experience understanding the principles and ideology behind journalism.
I'll go one further - I also believe those who really want to engage in serious debate with one another and want the other side to receive their assertions as "fact" MUST be able to back up those assertions with reliable research, particularly when the debate is political in nature. The failure to do so by much of pundit-parroting America has always been one of my pet peeves.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 20, 2012:
I don't take Stewart as fiction. In fact, I often feel I get better, more in-depth analysis from the Daily Show than I do from CNN or Fox, albeit with a good dollop of fun. Your last comment is the crux of the problem. News is now entertainment, expected to get good ratings and what do you do to get those? Give the viewers what they want to hear, play to their prejudices, sink to the lowest common denominator. So much for being informed. Thanks for commenting, Flora. Always hear from you. Lynda
FloraBreenRobison on January 19, 2012:
I find it very difficult to tell the difference between so called news shows and the satire shows created to, well, provide a satirical view of the news like those led by Jon Stewart or Stephan Colbert. We know the latter shows were only ever meant to be fictional. As for the days when print media was standard, those views have died. They don't get good rating s on the TV screen.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 19, 2012:
Hi Mr. Happy,A sad day, isn't it, when an editor of a major news publication should have to ask such a question. You have it right; much of the problem is in pressure from advertisers, as well as corporate ownership of major media outlets. Good luck finding socks made in Canada. When you do, please let me know how much they cost. Lynda
Hi CJStone, Yes, I think that corporate ownership of media outlets, particularly the narrowing of the "owner" field to four or five majors has adversely affected our chances of finding balance and truth in the information we receive. I've decided to write another hub, this one about the myth of freedom of the press, which will explore these excellent points you bring up here. Thanks. Lynda
Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on January 19, 2012:
Immartin, part of the problem is that journalism as a trade has been downgraded in the last few years. Local papers are usually just local arms of some national franchise out to make a big profit from as little copy as possible. Example: our local paper here in Whitstbale used to have its own office and a team of dedicated journalists. Now the editor is the journalist and everything else, and the paper serves several different towns and operates out of an office 30 miles away. No wonder the work is so shoddy. But this is all part of the same process by which the Daily Herald - a campaigning left-wing paper - became Rupert Murdoch's Sun, full of gossip and sport and tittle tattle, with a right wing agenda and a penchant for hacking into people's phones.
Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on January 19, 2012:
lol No wonder I cannot have a job writing when people such as Mr. Brisbane are clogging-up the job-market ... I cannot believe he regarded whether or not truth should be pursued in journalism as a difficult question. Mind-blowing ... what does he think a reporter's job is all about? Who gave him hs job and why? ...
The sad part is indeed the part about profit, ratings, money ... I remember when Bill Maher said somehting along the lines that it's cowardly to send missiles from thousands of miles away, not to sit in a plane when it hits a building (this as a partial response to Mr. Dubya's comment that the terrorists who manned the planes on 9/11 were cowards). Almost instantaneously, Sears pulled their adds from his show "Politically Incorrect" and most other adds were pulled soon after.
Sears woun't see a penny from me. And many other companies don't, even if it takes me an extra ten minutes looking for socks made in Canada (or the U.S.) ...
I do think a boycott can work if it is done propperly. So, if the New York Times is just there to regurgitate other people's opinions perhaps people should stop purchasing that magazine. We can get other people's opinions quite easily nowadays.
Great article Mrs. Lynda! Thank You for taking the time to honor truth in journalism which somehow, is no longer the norm.
All the best.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 19, 2012:
Hi Old Poolman -- yes, I'm sure there's competition at work and pressure from advertisers as well. So endemic is this run with it and check later -- if at all -- that now, an editor asks "Gee, should we be checking facts behind stories?" Amazing!
And a "Truth" channel would most likely only call itself thus, just like asserting yourself to be fair and balanced, BUT....
Thanks for the comment. Always nice to hear from you. Lynda
Old Poolman on January 18, 2012:
Lynda - Another highly informative hub by one of my favorite writers. I suspect part of the problem is the pressure on reporters to "scoop" all the other news medias and be first out with the news. This is how they win their "attaboys" in the news business. No time to check any facts, just write it and run with it to be the first with the news, and possibly check some facts later. Rarely do the publish a retraction even when proven completely wrong.
Oh how I wish there were a "Truth" channel on TV, or a "Truth" newspaper. I would be a loyal follower of both of them. Right now I believe very little of what I see on TV or read. Great job Lynda.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 18, 2012:
Thanks CJStone -- I believe I've read your hub but will check it out again. Beyond the idea of conspiracy and alternate motives lies the simple truth of laziness and sloppiness, which is even more endemic than deliberate misinformation. Even local stories that have no importance outside of our small sphere show this attitude of just taking whatever is said and running with it. I don't doubt there is much manipulation of and by the media on the national/world stage, not at all. But I am even more concerned about such a laissez-faire attitude among journalists to whom the truth has become little more than a joke -- and a bad one at that. Thanks so much for commenting. Lynda
Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on January 18, 2012:
A classic example of opinions become facts by dint of sheer repetition is the one about Ahmedinajad saying that he wanted to "wipe Israel off the map." That gets repeated over and over again, though he never said it, and what he did say has been taken so far out of context that it has come to mean something else entirely. The classic work on this subject is "Manufacturing Consent" by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. They give a thorough run down of exactly how the media works and why facts have become irrelevant in the news media. The history of the Daily Herald in this hub of mine gives you some idea of how things really work: https://hubpages.com/politics/Rupert-Murdoch-Media...
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 18, 2012:
Hello eye say. When young and romantic, I toyed with the idea of studying journalism and took an introductory course (along with many other introductory courses.) I found it very telling that almost the entire first year was dedicated to the ethics of the profession. Clearly, journalists and their business have taken a steep downward curve in the decades since. Thanks for sharing you first-hand views of this issue. (And pleased to meet you.) Lynda
eye say from Canada on January 18, 2012:
very well said, I work in the media, worked 3 to 4 newcasts a day and no longer watch the news or read newspapers regularly since - the mid 90's. It's very frustrating to watch reporters decide what's important and what "angel will get people watching.
I wait to find out the facts well after the fact has gotten out there and has been sifted through AND when someone I personally know tells me about something that is going on ... then I do the research myself.
Recently a story about a murder of a close relative showed me how out of wack the system really is - so many facts were wrong it was an embarrassment to watch.
Great for putting the downward spiral fair and honest reporting has taken. Thank you.
lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 17, 2012:
Thanks ThoughtSandwiches, but you only read the first part of this article because I accidentally published it while still working on it. Come back, come back and read the rest. Lynda
ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on January 17, 2012:
Well now...like you...I assumed they were checking their facts and doing the due diligence required of the "fourth" estate...
The cable news outlets do play a role in this I believe. Beyond the editorial slant they propagate as news...the mere presence of a non-stop 24-hours news cycle has led to a feeding frenzy of publish and figure out the details later...sad.
This is an excellent Hub and I shall be sharing it!
PS...Yes Mr. Brisbane...have your reporters do their job and challenge the facts!