Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Whither the Ethical Press?

I'm listening to Jay Rosen on Hugh's show at the moment talking about the Eason Jordan incident.

Good line from Jay: "I think that in this kind of thing early statements [from CNN] don't mean much."

That's called spin. And they're e-mailing it out individually to critics. Would anyone care to square that with these journalistic ethics bloggers are constantly accused of violating?

The more I examine it, the more I become convinced that the presumption of the media possessing superior ethics is a sham. You've got good and honest people, and you've got liars and manipulators, and knowing someone is a journalist doesn't help you figure out whether that person is one or the other. Media organizations certainly come across at minimum as ineffective at enforcing any particularly superior ethical standards, if indeed they even try.

Minnesotans are familiar with the mixture of moral preening and ethical shortcomings of local journalists - like He Who Knows Stuff, and the Boydiot, with the occasional ethically challenged guest editorial tossed into the mix. But it's not like the national journalism outlets are strangers here either.

A couple of other recent stories about journalists demonstrates ethical problems that run deep, and which the media has no intent of correcting.

Just today, Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine (hat tip to the Blog Father) had to explain basic media ethics to The New York Times - again! (Nice synchronicity. Hugh unexpectedly just put Jeff Jarvis on the air right now.)

And even in the matter of something as ridiculous as the way some in the media spread the fake report about a soldier being kidnapped, before the "evidence" was debunked as a picture of a toy action figure, Army of Mom points out:

"Every mom, wife, child of a soldier ... was worried, I'm sure, wondering if it could be their loved one."

Of course they were. That's what the terrorists were going for. And the media tagged gullibly along assisting with that mission without even remedial fact-checking.

My original take was that these kind of things were the exceptions, and that in general media professionals held themselves (or were at least held by their employers) to a higher standard. I'm beginning to think the burden of proof is shifting to journalists to prove that.


Blogger Army of Mom said...

As a member of the media (not so mainstream anymore since I no longer work for daily papers), I am continually disappointed in the quality of reporting (or lack thereof). I would have NEVER dreamed of doing the things these people do - make shit up, plagerize, taint a story toward my point of view, etc.

Just baffles me that they have no more ethics than they do. Just baffles me. I wonder if J-schools even teach ethics courses any more. I know I took my course.

2:31 PM  

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