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Sunday 18 October 2015

10 rules to raise the standard of professional journailsm

In many earlier posts I have written about our media, highlighting bias, inappropriate priorities and the poor attitudes of journalists always looking for gotcha moments (see Media posts ).  The posts provide many examples of these failures so I won't go through them again.

A major contributor to these failures is the ever-increasing competition by a voracious media for engaged and loyal audiences. Journalists and news commentators adopt attitudes aligned with their audience in order to garner a following. This in turn drives the selection of the stories they cover, the arguments/questions they raise and their attitude in interviews.

Given journalists have these 'negative' drivers, management must be ever more proactive to ensure standards are maintained, or preferably raised. They can do this by setting clear editorial guidelines, and ensuring all journalists know are fully informed and expected to follow them. Moreover compliance should be monitored and any failures penalized.

This post would not be complete without at least a suggested list of Editorial Guidelines. My suggestions are based on the editorial guidelines for the highly professional PBS Newshour. (see Another Chapter Begins for Newshour)

10 rules for professional journalists

  1. Do not report anything you cannot defend.
  2. Cover, write, and present every story with the care you would want if the story were about you.
  3. Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  4. Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as you believe yourself to be.
  5. Assume the same about all people on whom you report.
  6. Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  7. Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything
  8. Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  9. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  10. Remember you are NOT in the entertainment business.
Even if followed rigorously these rules may not guarantee audiences, but would certainly raise the standards of news commentary.

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