Category Archives: Transparency

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.”

 

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Poll Favors Presidential Power To Shut Media

Poll favors presidential power to shut media: Sam Stein reports a poll shows a plurality of Republicans want the president to have authority to close news outlets.

“The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members,” he writes.

“They also illustrate the extent to which Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration.”

What “Off The Record” Means

What “off the record” means: Matt Flegenheimer gives his interpretation of ways journalists get information from Washington officials and rules they sometimes follow.

“As a general principle, a reporter’s best course of action is to establish jargon-free parameters in plain English at the start: Can a source be quoted by name? Can we use the information if we leave out the name? Can we at least describe the source’s job?” he writes.

“But among those who have long dealt with the news media, like politicians and their charges, there is occasionally a sort of shorthand for these questions.”

 

 

Staying On The Record

Staying on the record: Steven Pearlberg reports that Dean Baquet, New York Times executive editor, took a personal ethical stance in refusing to join in an off-the-record meeting with President Trump.

“I don’t think officials should be able to tell me things that I can’t publish,” says Baquet, hewing to a philosophy that journalists should control the terms of an interview.

Not wanting to be courted or wooed, Baquet says “the leader of the news gathering operation shouldn’t have access that reporters don’t get.”

Affair Rocks Washington Media

Affair rocks Washington media: New York Times staff writers take a close look at the three-year affair between a NYT reporter and a security aide source, now part of a federal investigation and seizure of records.

“Avoiding conflicts of interest is a basic tenet of journalism, and intimate involvement with a source is verboten,” they write. But the central point is the seizure of a reporter’s records, says a Times statement.

Romance And Journalism

Romance and journalism: Indira Lakshmanan comments on a relationship between a New York Times reporter and an official of a government committee she covers, a failure of ethical journalism.

“It’s not a news flash that you can have a romantic partner and you can have a source, but they can’t be the same person,” she writes.

 

Americans And The News Media

Americans and the news media: The Media Insight Project finds the erosion of Americans’ trust of news media is a failure to communicate.

Many Americans think what they see in the news media looks largely like opinion and commentary. The project is a collaboration of the Associated Press, the American Press Institute and the AP-NORC Center.

Following The Money

Following the money: Mya Frazier reports that an obscure accounting rule change allowed an alert reporter to discover how millions of dollars were siphoned from public services through tax breaks.

“Although Statement 77 was not intended as a tool for the press, the new disclosures have become a font of valuable information for journalists,” she wrote.

Doubts About AP Poll Guide

Doubts about AP poll guide: David W. Moore casts doubts on new chapter in the AP stylebook on reporting election poll results.

“My sense is that however well intentioned, they will have little effect on how much coverage is given to polls,” he writes. “As superficial as it might be, we all want to know who’s winning the horse race.”

 

“Dead” Journalist Is Alive

“Dead” journalist is alive: Al Tompkins ponders the credibility impact of a Ukrainian ruse to nab a contract killer by saying a reporter was killed.

“Generally, journalists should not be part of a government deception plot,” writes Tompkins. “Generally, journalists should not be part of something that will produce untrue global coverage.”

Everyone who published or broadcast the false information has a stake in knowing the decisions that led to creating a fake news story, he adds.