Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Gibson Edit...and the Rest of the Story

The Constitution grants special protections to "the Press" because a free and open exchange of ideas is essential to our form of government. This also gives "the Press" the responsibility of being watchdog to the government.

When the press become politicized and biased toward a particular view, they stop objectively reporting, present only one side of the issue, and become merely an extension of and advocate for the side they favor rather than the independent reporter mandated by the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, below:

  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
  • 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.
  • Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
  • Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
  • Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant
  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
  • Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
Clearly, the sin of ommission--be it in the form of editing out contextual material, as ABC's Charlie Gibson did, or simply neglecting to state a clarification or fact-- is no less than the sin of commission. Both dodge and taint the truth. Sadly, this is an example that, far from being the exception, has now become the rule in current day news reading. Instead of Edward R. Murrow, we have a Keith Olberman who merely plays Ed on TV, reading his prompter with passion but no information. Several weeks ago, when annienyc engaged him in what she expected would be an intelligent discourse on the Democratic candidates, she learned that, much to her surprise, he was clueless as to any facts about either candidate. Thus we have edited tape instead of insightful interview and commentary, or, barring that, Chris Matthews talks about his tingling leg.

This sad substitution for journalism must stop. Journalists need to replace prompter readers and pundits who have no idea what they are talking about. But most of all, we need to replace propaganda mongers with objective reporters once again. Our Democracy depends on it.

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