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October 08, 2005

Journalistic Ethics


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Gilbert Cranberg, former editor of the Des Moines Register's opinion page, was interviewed by Scott Simon on NPR yesterday about the essay on journalistic ethics he wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review. I tried to transcribe his salient comments from the audio. You will do best to listen for yourself, because my shorthand is rusty.

What Cranberg has to say is crucial, and its neglect has lead to the propaganization of the press, and the development of The Underground Misinformation Network -- Karl Rove to Rush Limbaugh, Robert Novak and, the matyred Ms. Judith Miller being a familiar one. .

Cranberg believes that the press "should just not report opposing allegations or assertions, but try to tell their audience what the truth is."

For about twenty years, The Associated Press Managing Editors Code of 1994 said that a newspapers should "background", with facts, public statements that it knows to be inaccurate or misleading -- that phrase is no longer in their code. It's not in ANY journalism code to Cranberg's knowledge. He doesn't really say how or why it was dropped. Perhaps the corporations that bought newspapers crossed it out when they remade their publications into Tools of the Corporatocracy. I, personally, am reading the New Orleans Times Picayune these days for objectivity.

Cranberg says "You don't mislead, and you try to correct the record." So as not to be identified as a one of the "liberal media", no doubt, he uses the example of a mistatement by John Kerry durng the last campaign.

"If you have a political candidate who is making factually wrong statements [and you report them without truthful background], you have what I call 'The Werner von Braun School of Journalism' --we send up lies and where they land is someone else's problem."

"Verifying the truth, and reporting it, is up to the media, and goes to the heart of the democratic system ..

[As journalists] We have to verify information to to best of our ability, and vouch for the accuracy of it.

Isn't it wonderful that Media Matters and FactCheck are available for truth at our fingertips. Isn't it horrible that we can no longer trust a newspaper to tell the truth. The problem with doing one's own fact checking is that one does not generally rush to fact check one's own political sweetie pies. I, for one, am factchecking all neocons, all the time. If I could trust a newspaper, I might not be so polarized.

Photo note: An autumnal vegemetaphorophoto - I like to think of it as a rather pale and squashy Karl Rove meeting the Presspumpkins. Maybe that's a stretch.

Posted by Dakota at October 8, 2005 06:16 PM