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September 25, 2006

Ethical Media is Credible Media

Readers of this blog and CAMERA's Web site will occasionally come across references to "journalistic standards" or "ethical guidelines" (or "journalistic ethics" or "ethical standards").

These standards, encapsulated in codes of ethics drawn up by news organizations (see here for some examples), are meant to ensure that the news media remain credible.

And since there are no real penalties when a news organization strays from its obligations to accuracy and objectivity, CAMERA pushes those organizations to uphold their self-imposed standards, and lets the public know when those standards are ignored. When a news outlet consistently ignores journalistic ethics (see for example here), readers can then conclude that outlet isn't trustworthy.

The relationship between ethical media and credible media was summed up well In a column last Saturday by the Atlanta Journal Constitution's public editor, Angela Tuck: "Ethical guidelines are what separate credible news organizations from the tabloid press," she wrote. "Pictures, like stories, must accurately reflect the news."

Ironically, Tuck herself wasn't very accurately reflecting the news when she stated: "British-based Reuters news service discovered that at least two photographs taken of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict by a Lebanese freelancer had been altered."

Reuters deserves no credit for "discovering" the manipulated photos. In fact, its photo editors had dropped the ball, leaving it to the blogging community to expose the photo fraud.

As CNN's Mary Snow noted on Sept. 22, "Reuters admits fault because its photo editors didn't catch the altered images. It was a blog site that blew that whistle."

Posted by GI at September 25, 2006 11:46 AM


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