"On this, there is complete agreement as well as complete confusion: everyone agrees that journalists must convey the truth." However, many are perplexed as to what "the truth" entails... The need for information to be accurate is fundamental. In our society, people rely on journalists to provide information about which they can make informed decisions. Therefore, journalists must seek the truth and report it accurately.
As with all professions, there are good ones and bad ones. Some journalists may try to be popular by reporting what people want to read or see. Other reporters will go beyond the call of duty in order to get the story. In general, though, journalists should only report facts and not opinion. They should also avoid being biased in their coverage of a subject.
The media has been in controversy many times over the years because certain events have caused concern regarding journalistic integrity. One example is the case of Judith Miller of The New York Times. In 2005, she wrote an article suggesting that elements within the government had known about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but had ignored evidence against Saddam Hussein.
This statement was contrary to the official position of President George W. Bush and caused outrage among some members of the public. Since then, Judith Miller has been forced to admit that she was given false information by American officials and has apologized for her error.
Journalists that behave themselves honestly earn the public's trust. We are real and candid in the course of our job. We credit information we acquire from others, making it crystal obvious to our viewers where the information came from. We avoid exaggeration and sensationalism. Most of all, we try to be honest.
The media has a special role to play in our society. We are the most visible arm of government, and therefore have the potential to influence the way people think about issues. We are also given access to high-profile figures who could not otherwise be heard by the public. However, because we are not always an objective observer, we must be honest when reporting on matters that affect us personally or our organizations.
Honesty is vital to journalism because without it, we would be nothing more than gossiping strangers. History shows that those who get everything they want from the media are quick to take advantage of that relationship. They may promise fame and fortune, but they deliver only pain and suffering. The key to maintaining your integrity as a journalist is to know yourself well enough to realize when you have been duped or taken advantage of. Then you can report on other people's actions with clarity and truth.
Journalists must tell the truth. Journalists should avoid issues in which they have a financial or personal interest that would provide them with a special benefit in the subject matter because such interest may infuse bias into their reporting or create the perception of prejudice. Truth is important to journalism; without it, we're merely having a conversation, not a democracy.
The need for objectivity is an ongoing concern for journalists. While some methods have been developed over time to reduce subjective influence on news coverage, such as blind editing and independent fact-checking, even these methods can't guarantee objective reporting. For example, editors cannot know how much information each reader has absorbed about an event, so they must make assumptions based on past experience. Likewise, outside reviewers can offer only limited insight into whether a story is being biased toward a particular perspective.
Subjective elements are often necessary in journalism. For example, writing styles vary between reporters, so one person could not cover a topic exhaustively without drawing on the experiences and observations of others. The same thing is true of opinion writing: someone needs to decide what angle to take and support their view with reasons why this is the correct approach. Without subjectivity, journalism would be bland and uninteresting!
Furthermore, subjects themselves can affect how they are reported upon. If a celebrity dies, for example, their absence makes room for other stories to be covered by journalists.
Accuracy is especially important in terms of the factuality of journalistic discourse because it forces journalists not only to base their reporting on facts, but also to check whether presented facts are true or not—which is reflected both in the description of the journalistic profession as the discipline...
...and in the importance given to accurate reports.
In conclusion, accuracy is important for journalism because it ensures that information is reported properly and completely, which allows readers and viewers to make informed decisions about what topics they want to learn more about.
Journalists rely on source protection to obtain and disseminate public-interest material from confidential sources. Anonymity may be required to shield such sources from physical, economic, or professional retaliation in reaction to their discoveries. It is therefore not unusual for journalists to use pseudonyms or disguise the identity of their sources.
Generally speaking, yes, journalists should always protect their sources. When sources provide information that could put them in danger, they have a right to expect confidentiality will be maintained. Sources need to know that if they provide information about their activities or associations, others may try to harm them or their families for telling all they know. Journalists must also consider how disclosing sources' identities might affect their own safety or that of others. For example, if a source in an oppressive regime were to identify him or herself as a journalist, it might put that person in danger of being punished by that government.
There are times when sources cannot be protected. For example, if a source's life was in jeopardy, then their identity could be revealed without putting them at further risk. The same would be true if the only way to report important information is by revealing the source. In these cases, sources' rights can be overridden by other interests such as the public's right to know. As long as such actions are taken only when no other options are available, then journalists should not object to these restrictions.