Strengthening Mainstream Media’s Hand


Contrary to popular belief, PR professionals actually prefer journalists who exercise balance in their reporting versus those who don’t. How many times have we been faced with an investigative reporter or TV news producer’s request for an interview, knowing full well that the reporter’s story premise is a foregone conclusion (in spite of controvening facts)? Or, what about the journalist who cares less for the pedigree/credibility of the messenger than a story’s prospects for garnering a sensational headline, and thus a bigger audience?

It is therefore welcome news that the flag bearer for editorial integrity, The New York Times, ratcheted up the stakes for journalists everywhere by committing to be more forthcoming, i.e., transparent. The newspaper-of-record intends to shed further light on the news gathering process and publicly address the scrutiny it endures daily from all ideologies, among other noteworthy initiatives.

This announcement follows one day after the publication of a timely and thoughtful “editorial observation” from NYT staff writer Adam Cohen who dutifully laid out the salient differences between bloggers and journalists. Yes, I know Dan Gillmor calls it citizen journalism, but even so, do these citizen or grassroots journalists merit protection under the First Amendment? Adam makes a reasonable argument against these protections — one that will not be settled easily or anytime in the immediate future.

Whatever the outcome, we all should embrace any effort to re-build public trust in, and the re-empowerment of, a news organization willing to aggressively feret out and expose social, political, or economic injustice.