New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan encouraged student journalists to be accurate in their reporting, and to not plagiarize:
And last, another certainty is the need to get it right. We need the strongest possible commitment to accuracy and its close cousin, fairness. Yes, we’re all in the biggest rush in the world to get the news out. But we’ll wreck it all if we don’t make sure as we can that it is verifiably true.
Sullivan spoke at the Associated Collegiate Press National College Journalism convention in San Diego last week.
In addition to encouraging students to be accurate, she also told them that integrity is important and that they shouldn’t plagiarize:
One is integrity. Simply put, as journalists, you are not for sale. Not for a free lunch, or inside access to powerful people, or for, excuse, a line on a future book contract. Your work serves the public. It’s about truth-seeking and truth-telling. And your work is your work, not borrowed from or copied from others without credit.
It’s good to know that someone at the Times is concerned with accuracy and plagiarism—especially in light of the Jayson Blair scandal that rocked the paper more than 10 years ago, and continues to haunt them even to this day.
What she didn’t directly tell the college journalists, however, was to be unbiased. That is one of the biggest problems plaguing newspapers today. Many have moved from reporting the news to reporting their opinion about the news, and disguising it as news in the process.
College journalists need more than a lecture by someone like Sullivan to advise them what they should do. They need a class in how to report fairly and accurately—something that most journalism schools aren’t likely to teach—because that won’t sit very well with their liberal mindset.
That just means more work for Accuracy in Media, but we are up to the task.