Have We Lost The Art Of Journalism?
Gone are the days of Clark Kent and Lois Lane reporters for the major newspaper of their fair city. In the day and age of the internet where anything goes and nothing is sacred.
Things began to change after the Second World War. Honesty and character were the norm. A man’s word is his bond was actually sealed with a handshake. Hard work built character. Families were taught to honor and respect parents, the elderly and authority. Life wasn’t always fair. Becoming a journalist was easy, but becoming well respected had to be earned.
The really tough part was covering without become the story. Journalists around the world held to certain principles. It has always been important to report the truth accurately. Staying independent of any influences and maintaining fairness and impartiality were important. Keep in mind the humanity of the lives being affected. Most of all professionals are responsible journalists standing by their words and admitting when an error has been made is being responsible.
A coveted spot for journalists has been covering the President of the United States. America has ogled over little John-John and Caroline and the children who resided in the White House residence. The formation of the White House Press Corp made it possible to maintain an orderly team of journalists who would insure America was informed of the goings on within the White House.
What we’ve seen since the 2016 election is a departure from the norms of journalism. No matter what is going on with the presidency, the national economy or world events today’s journalists have allowed personal prejudices to influence the accuracy of their reporting to the point of becoming disrespectful and belligerent toward the White House Press Secretary, President Trump and his administration officials and their families.
The vitriol and hatred expressed by members of the media is inexcusable and leads me to believe that we’ve truly lost the Art of Journalism. Let me present five basic standards which professional journalists must adhere to.
Five Principles of Ethical Journalism
- Truth and Accuracy
Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so.
Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.
3. Fairness and Impartiality
Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.
Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.
A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.
EJN supporters do not believe that we need to add new rules to regulate journalists and their work in addition to the responsibilities outlined above, but we do support the creation of a legal and social framework, that encourages journalists to respect and follow the established values of their craft.
In doing so, journalists and traditional media, will put themselves in a position to be provide leadership about what constitutes ethical freedom of expression. What is good for journalism is also good for others who use the Internet or online media for public communications.
It is well to remember that internet bloggers, tweeters and Facebookers would be well to adhere to these standards before facing legal troubles of libel, slander and malfeasance. – I am the Real Truckmaster!