Category Archives: Transparency

Doubting Anonymity

Doubting anonymity: David Frum challenges the New York Times decision to publish an anonymous anti-Trump op-ed.

“Previous generations of Americans have sacrificed fortunes, health and lives to serve the country,” Frum tells the anonymous writer. “You are asked only to tell the truth aloud and with your name attached.”

 

Advertisements

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.”

 

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.