By Kevin Devlin
The public’s trust in the media is quite low these days because journalists have shattered the distinction between opinion and news. As a result they want you to believe what they believe not predicated on truth but their personal, preconceived biases. That is not their job to divine the truth if they are reporting the news. They need to give the public the facts, pure and simple, and let the public decide what they believe to be true. Giving one’s opinion on issues is of course a different animal; but must be clearly evident. Walter Hussman, Jr. chairman of WEHCO Media Inc., which owns newspapers, magazines, and cable television systems in six states, would like to see a restoration of trust between media and the public. His company’s core values, which he prints in his daily newspapers, hoping to “renew the values, standards and practices that have stood the test of time” in the field of journalism are as follows:
Impartiality means reporting, editing, and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without personal opinion or bias. Credibility is the greatest asset of any news medium, and impartiality is the greatest source of credibility. To provide the most complete report, a news organization must not just cover the news, but uncover it. It must follow the story wherever it leads, regardless of any preconceived ideas on what might be most newsworthy. The pursuit of truth is a noble goal of journalism. But the truth is not always apparent or known immediately. Journalists’ role is therefore not to determine what they believe at that time to be the truth and reveal only that to their readers, but rather to report as completely and impartially as possible all verifiable facts so that readers can, based on their own knowledge and experience, determine what they believe to be the truth. When a newspaper delivers both news and opinions, the impartiality and credibility of the news organization can be questioned. To minimize this as much as possible there needs to be a sharp and clear distinction between news and opinion, both to those providing and consuming the news.
“Journalism is so important to American democracy, it’s so important to our future, and it’s so important to reestablish the trust with the public,” Hussman said. I can only hope more journalists embrace Hussman’s core values in order to provide the American public with honest, fair, objective, verifiable, and unbiased news so WE can determine what the truth really is, and therefore be able to rely on the media as having our best interests-and not theirs-as their first priority.