Sunday, May 08, 2005

Higher Ethical Standards in the Main Stream Media (MSM)

Howard Kutz from the Washington Post wrote Ethics Pressure Squeezes a Few Out the Door:
Has journalism become an ethical cesspool, or just been forced to adopt greater standards of cleanliness?

In the past month alone, four reporters for major newspapers have been ousted, and a columnist was suspended, for ethical missteps. The drip-drip-drip of disclosures about sloppiness, fabrication and plagiarism have further eroded the media's reputation, leading to a one-strike-and-you're-out policy at many outlets...

...Media bosses are getting tougher on wayward staffers not just because of a greater sense of professionalism, but because outsiders -- led by bloggers and other critics -- have stepped up the pressure. In the Internet age, there's no rug under which to sweep these problems...

... When he was at the Milwaukee Journal in the 1970s, "there was one guy who just fabricated stuff," but "nobody knew outside the newsroom." As for the overall state of media ethics, "it may have been worse in those days, considering half the people in the newsroom were drunk." ... [Ed: Gaaaa!]

...Gannon doesn't deny advertising online as a $200-an-hour gay escort, but describes himself as the victim of "a full-scale jihad" by liberals. Vanity Fair says he falsely told friends he had been a Marine -- Gannon says he displayed military paraphernalia and "didn't disabuse anyone of that notion" -- and owes nearly $21,000 in back taxes. Gannon believes God bestowed a White House assignment on him so that he could atone for past transgressions, Vanity Fair says...

[Ed: Isn't faking military service an offense of sorts?]

In defending his name change, the man born as James Guckert says Jeff Gannon has a "nice ring to it -- like Wolf Blitzer, which isn't his real name either." Actually, Mr. Guckert, it is his real name.

I expect the pressure from bloggers and critics to affect not just the main stream media, but to other organizations like governments, companies, and even non-profits. More diligence and due process or be prepared to be exposed... badly. Sometimes, I wonder to myself if corrections were made to reports on the papers the next day, would the errata page amount to half the number of pages or more? :)

In the long run, I think this bodes well for society. More honest governments; companies which are more focused on long term sustainability rather than short term gains.

Note to self: This CopyURL extension is really neat. I created the links, blockquotes and what not in double quick time!

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