Accuracy in Media

To read some news articles you’d think deep concern over the state of journalism in America today exists only in the overactive imaginations of media watchdogs on both the right and the left. The truth is that even journalists themselves are concerned about the decline in journalism standards.  Some factors of concern include:

  • The pressures of the competitive 24-hour news cycle and the push to be first with a story, without adequate checking.

  • The demise of independent newspapers as large media companies buy out remaining ones and enforce a corporate agenda.

  • Cost-cutting measures that reduce personnel and time for investigative journalism.

  • Blurring of boundaries between news, entertainment and advertising.

  • Blurring of boundaries between the business side of news and the editorial division.

Perhaps the best expression of that journalistic concern in found in the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ), a consortium of reporters, editors, producers, publishers, owners and academics that is “worried about the future of the profession.” 

To secure journalism’s future, the group believes that “[J]ournalists from all media, geography, rank and generation must be clear about what sets our profession apart from other endeavors. To accomplish this, the group is creating a national conversation among journalists about principles.”

Their three top goals are:

  • To clarify and renew journalists’ faith in the core principles and function in journalism.

  • To create a better understanding of those principles by the public.

  • To engage and inform ownership and management of these principles and their financial as well as social value.

In the summer of 1997, two dozen leading journalists with CCJ issued a statement of concern.  That statement reads in part: “This is a critical moment for journalism in America. While the craft in many respects has never been better?Many journalists feel a sense of lost purpose. There is even doubt about the meaning of news, doubt evident when serious journalistic organizations drift toward opinion, infotainment and sensation out of balance with the news?Journalists share responsibility for the uncertainty. Our values and professional standards are often vaguely expressed and inconsistently honored?Today, too often, the principles in our work are hard to discern or lost in the din, and our leaders feel constrained?Now we believe journalists must speak for themselves?.We propose to summon journalists to a period of national reflection.”

The CCJ has distilled much of its findings in an online publication called, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect.”

Those interested in the state of journalism in America should follow the work of the CCJ and read its materials. But the effort needs to take into account the work of respected media watchdog groups such as AIM. Concerned journalists should also be concerned about rectifying the rampant liberal bias in their profession.

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