Category Archives: Transparency

Lagging Freedom Of Information Act

Lagging Freedom of Information Act: Passed in 1966, but “it’s more difficult than ever to pry loose documents about the federal government”, writes C.J. Ciaramella.

Roughly 800,000 FOIA requests were made in 2017. A record number were denied or censored in the first year of the Trump administration. Ciaramella calls the act “a wheezing, arthritic artifact of more optimistic times.”

 

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Toronto Star Updates Standards

Toronto Star updates standards: Sydney Smith describes new guidelines that mesh long-standing principles with current digital realities.

New policies call for greater transparency, labels for news and opinion and reluctance to unpublish except for rare circumstances.

 

Fact-Checking The NAFTA Agreement

Fact-checking the NAFTA agreement: Daniel Funke writes about concerns over false and inaccurate claims about the North American Trade Agreement and American trade policy. President Trump threatened to end the agreement.

“The goal: Bring more attention to policy issues that don’t get enough attention in a 24-hour news cycle dominated by Trump coverage,” he writes.

 

Media Trust Down, Can Be Restored For Some

Media trust down, can be restored for some: Gallup and the Knight Foundation release new findings.

“These results indicate that attempts to restore trust in the media among most Americans may be fruitful, particularly if those efforts are aimed at improving accuracy, enhancing transparency and reducing bias,” they report.

About one-third of those on the political right have lost faith in the media and expect that to be permanent.

Investigating A Journalist

Investigating a journalist: The Houston Chronicle’s editor says “we have launched an investigation into the work of one of our own reporters” who is accused of quoting people who don’t exist.

“We owe our readers the truth and to tell you if, in fact, there were inaccuracies in anything we published,” he writes. “We simply don’t know the full story yet.”

 

Interviewing Dishonest People

Interviewing dishonest people: Jason Schwartz says a pressing question in the Trump era is how journalists should handle powerful news makers who are known to be dishonest.

The issue is complicated “and there are distinctions to be found between interviewing sources with checkered histories off-camera, grilling them on-air on a newsworthy subject and bringing them on simply as a talking head,” he writes.

 

Guarding Against Online Trolls

Guarding against online trolls: James Ball reports that journalistic thoughtfulness often “goes out the door when it comes to reporting events that begin on social media.”

Online celebrities and people on the internet often are manipulators with agendas, Ball writes.

“And journalists fall into their trap, time and time again; something about online messaging turns off our reporting instincts.”

 

Recycled Interviews Deemed Unethical

Recycled interviews deemed unethical: Sydney Smith writes that National Public Radio discovered a freelance reporter laced old interviews with current stories without disclosure.

Listeners might have thought the comments were new, said NPR, but some were months or years old. That was misleading, said NPR, and not in line with editorial standards. NPR will not use the reporter’s work in the future.

 

Keep Words Small For Big Ideas

Keep words small for big ideas: Merrill Perlman notes a trend toward journalists using big words to “sound smart.”

“But a journalist’s job is to inform,” writes Perlman, “and information will not come through if the audience doesn’t understand the words.”

Rather than sending readers to a dictionary, “a writer wants to keep readers reading, to keep them engaged in our stories.”