Sunday, December 10, 2017

Public faith in the ‘Fourth Estate’ is “pretty damn low — humiliatingly low”.


The title above is from this blog post about an article published in the magazine New York, a “sobering view of journalism and news reporting”. And below is sage advice for the public from The New York Times: one of the responsibilities of journalists is the need to “Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.”

And that’s also very true of the public here in Palm Beach County. Now that The Palm Beach Post is For Sale maybe we can get new ownership and the kind of newspaper that doesn’t need to be put up For Sale to bring about the change that’s so desperately needed. Maybe we’ll see a headline with a message from the new owner(s):

“Mission of Post, Shiny Sheet
WILL change”

Another quote from New York magazine:

“I think one of the greatest casualties of the high metabolism of the news business is complexity. That’s a big loss.”
Quote by Bill Keller, journalist and former editor at The New York Times. 

The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News (also called The Shiny Sheet) are up For Sale but the recent message from the publisher is,

“Mission of Post, Shiny Sheet
will not change”

Will not change? But what if the public wants change at those newspapers? What if cities, towns and villages here in Palm Beach County want change too? Will the publisher visit city halls and ask administration leadership and elected leaders what they think? Several times Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein has made his thoughts known:

“We [the City] are held to a higher standard, they [the press] should hold themselves to a higher standard” too.

Another quote from the New York magazine article, advice to editors, reporters and journalists who need to:

“[C]onfront, out in the open, the possibility that their work might not be any of the things they imagined it was — objective, rigorous, informative. Instead, we found we often looked partisan, mendacious, lazy, sloppy, and shrill.”

And lastly, what The New York Times published, the responsibility of reporters, journalists, and editors:
  • “Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.”
  • “Diligently seek out subjects of news articles to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.”
  • “Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.”
  • “Disclose unavoidable conflicts.”
  • “Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.”
  • “Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.”
  • “Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.”

—Source: New York Times’ Learning Network, Chapter 4.11: “The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics”.

“Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.”