NPR has a new ethics handbook, where they lay out the “standards of our journalism.”
There are sections for Guiding Principles, Accuracy, Fairness, Completeness, Honesty, Independence, Impartiality, Transparency, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence.
If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports.
And here is an example of NPR putting its ethical guidelines into practice, via Jay Rosen:
NPR REPORTER: Mitt Romney, son of former American Motors CEO George Romney, criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the bailout.
MITT ROMNEY: Instead of going through the normal managed bankruptcy process, he made sure the bankruptcy process ended up with the UAW taking the lion’s share of the equity in the business.
NPR REPORTER: Actually, the U.S. Treasury got most of GM’s equity.
I, for one, would love to see more usage of the word “actually” from reporters.
This makes me happy, obviously, but then again, it is pretty infuriating that this should be out of the ordinary. Like the reaction to the infamous “Truth Vigilante” column from The New York Times, this seems to be an affirmation that yes, journalists should practice journalism.
All of this, of course, is just another reason Republicans think that NPR should be defunded. Some disagree.