Accuracy in Media

Wolf Blitzer, the host of CNN’s The Situation Room defended journalists in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania on November 15th. Blitzer was the keynote speaker at the University Honor Council’s Integrity Week. (stop laughing)

While speaking of journalists and they way they cover stories Blitzer said “We know we have an enormous responsibility to make sure we try to get it right?especially in those stories where the breaking news can be quite intense, It is much more important to be right than to be first.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it isn’t worth anything if you don’t practice what you preach. Blitzer also expressed surprise that journalists are no longer viewed as “good guys” He also added the need for precise, accurate and fair reporting.

So let me get this straight, he is actually surprised that journalists aren’t considered “good guys?” Do the names Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley and Dan Rather ring any bells with their phony stories? And those are just some of the more famous names where lies and deceit were part and parcel of their reporting. There are many lesser known names that have been caught lying and plagiarizing stories. Is it really any wonder why the public distrusts the media? As for accurate, precise and fair reporting that’s an interesting statement form a guy who works for CNN which conservatives used to call the Clinton News Network for how favorably they reported on Clinton when he was the President.

But that’s not all. When he broached the subject of journalists’ mistakes, Blitzer said “We’re a first draft of history? As all of you who’ve written papers know, the first draft can be wrong.” I would buy that argument except that how many times have you seen a mistake corrected. I mean a serious error not the smaller items that appear daily in the newspaper. In all my time at AIM I can count on one hand the number of on the air corrections that we played a part in, but most of them were buried or out of context which largely defeated the effectiveness of the correction.

Maybe next year they can get a speaker who actually knows what integrity and honesty in journalism is really all about.




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