Friday, October 18, 2013


A couple of new media ventures have me thinking more and more about the need for news outlets to remain focused on the bedrock needs of journalism: accuracy, fact-checking, fairness, measured reason and -- often the most important -- patience to make sure coverage is both balanced and complete.

News of late includes the creation of a new venture with Glenn Greenwald, formerly of the Guardian and Edward Snowden fame, and the creator of Ebay. There is also the Truth Revolt, the conservative venture casting itself as a right-wing Media Matters for America.

I will withhold comment on that comparison both because I work at Media Matters and because it would take too long to explain why it is a ridiculous comparison.

Still, with more and more new outlets joining the Internet fray, and many others such as The Washington Post changing owners or approaches, the basics of what still should count for journalism cannot be forgotten or dropped.

While the Internet has for nearly 20 years provided both journalists and news consumers with a vast opportunity to find and check facts and learn news from various sources and viewpoints, it has also created a growing danger of abuse.

I have often said much of what is wrong with news today is not perceived bias on the right or left, but greed among those profiting off news and laziness among many who practice our craft.

It is two easy to fall into the trap of opinion, poor fact-checking and a rush to report facts. Some of this is going to occur given the speed in which news is diseminated today, along with the vast cutbacks in many newsrooms of staff to report, edit and write.

Still, if we and others in the growing and changing world of news do not hold our own feet to the fire and make sure the ethics and basic tools of reporting are followed and nurtured, we do a disservice. In the end, credibility will lose out to profit and speed and the viewer/reader/listener will suffer.

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