A new creed for journalism
Stephen Bounds — Sun, 25/09/2011 - 12:56
The original journalist's creed was penned by Walter Williams in 1906. While it still remains a relevant and powerful document, the media has been increasingly the subject of criticism in the last few years.
Jay Rosen has been one of the loudest and most articulate global voices of this criticism, including his coining of phrases such as the View from Nowhere, he said-she said journalism. He's also been a strong critic of the "insiders", politics-as-entertainment style of journalism which is particularly problematic here in Australia.
The Voice of San Diego is a public-service, nonprofit news organization that focuses on in-depth and investigative reporting in the San Diego region. It has made a name for itself in uncovering a number of important scandals. Jay was recently granted permission to reproduce the Voice of San Diego's New Reporter Guidelines. These forcefully reject today's tropes of press reporting and exhort their journalists to "make things better".
I am no journalist, but I am a consumer of journalism and want journalism to stay relevant. I know what function I want the modern press to take (hint: not what we're getting now). In the spirit of the Voice of San Diego, I offer a modern creed for journalists that challenges them to be courageous and seek better outcomes through their work:
Creed of New Journalism
WHAT WE DO
1. We believe that in a world of too much information, there is power in publishing better information.
2. Transparency is key to independence. Independence allows the truth to be told.
3. Our first priority is to accurately and truthfully report what you can't easily find out another way.
4. When we tell you our opinion, we will not claim that opinion as the truth.
5. We ask you to trust us because you know who we are, and believe that we care about what happens next.
WHY WE DO IT
6. We are striving to make a difference.
7. We want our communities to be empowered through knowledge.
8. We will expose incompetence, corruption, and injustice when they are hidden.
9. We want our governing authorities to serve their whole constituency.
HOW WE DO IT
10. Our job is to listen, read, and tell you about what matters, and why it matters.
11. We will find out what isn't being said and tell you that too.
12. We will never act as someone else's mouthpiece.
13. We will avoid the trap of false objectivity, but will always strive for fairness.
14. If we tell you our conclusions, we will explain how we arrived at them.
15. We will seek experts to explain what we don't know or understand, not to confirm our own bias.
16. We will cite our sources so you can make up your own mind about what we say.
17. We will not hide from criticism, and will be unashamed to say that we were wrong.
Licensed for public domain under CC0.
Anyone who sees value in this creed is welcome to copy, modify and/or reuse in any way. Our country needs a revitalised and respected press, and if this piece can somehow contribute to that, all the better.
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