Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Journalistic Ethics: Breakin' All The Rules

Wisconsin and the shutdown debate have again exposed the bias of our media. Indeed, our media is a disgrace: bias, lies, distortions, laziness, conflicts of interest, you name it, they’re doing it wrong. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a walk through the code of ethics for journalists and see how the media measures up to their own standards.

This particular code of ethics can be found HERE. It’s from the Society of Professional Journalists. Founded in 1909, the SPJ is a professional organization that includes broadcast, print and online journalists, as well as journalism educators. Here are some of their principles:

"Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. They should test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible."
Right out of the gates, we have a bit of a laugher, unless making stuff up to help Democrats counts as honest and fair. Take, for example, the AP’s total distortions during the ObamaCare debate, like how they called Pelosi’s plan “universal coverage” when it actually excluded 22 million people, or how they uncritically reported “cost savings” that weren’t there, or a dozen other bits of Democratic propaganda. And don’t forget how The Economist mistated Republican positions and poll results so it could present its distorted view of the American right (I love how they describe 70% of the public as “extremists.”)

As for verifying information, can someone then explain to me why the MSM went insane over FOX News daring to be skeptical over the left’s global warming sacred cow? I guess some things weren’t meant to be tested.
"Journalists should identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability."
But this apparently asks too much of modern journalists, so they just attribute the information to “sources within the administration.” They also get around this problem by using other journalists or websites as sources. This is how they report rumor as fact: “ is reporting that Sarah Palin drinks human blood.”
"Journalists should diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing."
Yeah, except then you get into the whole problem of what do you do if they deny the story and point out that it can’t be true. That could kill your story. It’s better to report it now and issue a correction later... on page 100 -- especially when you want to smear a conservative right before an election. The way around this rule, by the way, is to call the subject at their office at 3:00 am and then write the magic words, “Mr. Obama did not immediately respond to our request for comments.”
"Journalists should never distort the content of news photos or video."
Unless you want to make it look like Israelis are killing unarmed Palestinians, then by all means feel free. Or if you want to make someone look bad, feel free to take their quotes out of context.

Take a look at Politico’s coverage of the Issa “scandal.” One of his staffers may have shared journalists’ notes with other journalists. Big whoop. Issa looked into it and fired the staffer. Yet, Politico tried to turn this into an "Issa scandal" by including Issa’s name in each headline and image in each article as if the “scandal” involved him. Compare that to how Pelosi's name never appeared when her aid was arrested for selling drugs.
"Journalists should examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others."
Unless you’re Joe Klein, who set out to disprove that he had a distorted view of America by visiting Democratic activists in big liberal cities in liberal states all over the liberal parts of the country. Imagine my surprise when he found that every American he met seemed to love Obama just like he does and intended to vote for the Democrats in November 2010, except for a few “ugly” and “angry” conservatives?! Yeah, no bias there.

Oh, and let’s not forget that journalists seem quite happy to dismiss bad economic conditions when Democrats are running the show but somehow think better economic conditions are horrific under Republican administrations. Or that somehow, they always see civil wars in the Republican ranks, but see nothing but unicorns and love in Democratic ranks. Or that somehow, Republicans can never be specific enough about their agenda for these journalists, yet they never make the same complaint about Democrats.
"Journalists should avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status."
Unless they are covering racist teabaggers or conservatives, then feel free to use racist, sexist, or homophobic insults against them. . . after all, they’re all fat, white, racist, southern hillbillies. Seriously, the MSM spent months intentionally not understanding and misrepresenting the Tea Party as confused astroturfers who were really a PAC created by Ron Paul or Sarah Palin. . . or Satan, and who had no idea what they wanted. Yet, these same journalists easily understood the confused and tribal coffeebreakers, and honed a unified message for them. And let’s not forget, stereotyping is second nature to the media. How often have you heard Republicans described as “angry, white men” or as representing “the rich”?
"Journalists should distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context."
Actually, I think the AP officially declared this one dead; not that anyone in the media was following it anyway. There almost isn’t a story written today that doesn’t spend as much time opining as it does reporting facts.

Check out the AP’s advocacy of ObamaCare, or the media’s distortions of all things Republican, or any of the other items linked in this article. And how can they possibly justify the Journolist, a large listserv for leftist journalists to coordinate their stories to attack people and ideas opposed by the left? Why were none of these people punished? Why did no one from the MSM even investigate this? This was an indictment on the whole rotten "profession."
"Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know. They should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility."
You mean like the Journolist? Or how about the way journalists give vast sums of money to Democratic campaigns or the way they marry Democrats or the revolving door between the MSM and Democratic administrations? Does any of this ring any bells with our journalistic friends? I thought not.

Interestingly, a corollary to this rule requires journalists to “disclose unavoidable conflicts.” So why did they attack Tucker Carlson for exposing the Journolist? And why didn’t any of them expose it themselves? And why would they “expose” Newscorp giving donations, but remain silent about each other? And why do so many journalists (like those at Politico) go through George Soros’ training program without disclosing that? Don’t you think they’d be upset if conservative journalists didn’t disclose being trained by The Right Wing Propaganda School?
"Journalists should distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two, and should deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage. They should also refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity."
Uh huh. That’s why ABC never runs negative stories about Disney and NBC studiously avoided talking about GE, and why sportswriters do the bidding of the NFL by covering up for their collection of criminals or pimping for new stadiums, and entertainment writers cover up the messes of the studios. Journalists are for sale. See my article on Newsvertising or watch a few minutes of CNBC if you want proof. And don't get me started on the direct link between journalists and the Democratic Party.

This is why no one trusts the media. I can’t think of another profession that so routinely and so sanctimoniously ignores ALL of its own ethical rules.

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