Dim view of media? Try more transparency

September 18, 2009

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

This week brought more distressing news for journalists, as a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found the U.S. public more critical than ever of the accuracy and independence of the media.

Only 29 percent of Americans believe that news organisations generally get the facts straight, the survey found, the lowest level in the survey’s near quarter-century history.

It gets worse:

–Just 26 percent said the media are careful that reporting is not politically biased.
–Only 20 percent believe news organisations are independent of powerful people and organisations.
–Barely a fifth believe the media are willing to admit mistakes.

And news organisations have been able to do what politicians have failed at: creating consensus across party lines. Now solid majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents all believe that stories are often inaccurate and tend to favor one side.

It’s been a long road down. Back in 1985, in the first survey on media performance cited by Pew, 55 percent said news outlets get the facts straight and only 45 percent said the press was politically biased. Now 60 percent see political bias and only 18 percent say the media deal fairly with all sides of political and social issues.

What are we to do?

In the face of criticism, there’s sometimes a tendency to take shelter, keep one’s head down and hope the critics go away. But they won’t go away. And judging by the passionate and sometimes vitriolic criticisms I see in our comment sections, there are significant numbers of readers who will never believe reporters can put aside personal viewpoints and report a story accurately and fairly. You only have to look at discussions of coverage in the Middle East to see that.

The proper response, I believe, can be summed up in two words: More transparency.

That’s why we decided to make freely available to the public the guidelines our journalists live by when we published our Handbook of Journalism–and asked for feedback on it. That’s why I’m doing this job. That’s why we’re aggressive and open about correcting our mistakes. That’s why, in this blog and others, we welcome comments and debate on our work and issues in the news.

Reuters Editor in Chief David Schlesinger put it well in a recent speech, when he described journalism, at its best, as “a mirror, exposing back to society a true and brutally honest picture of what is going on.”

“When we fail at that,” he said, “when our picture is not clear or is at all distorted, we deserve to be criticised.”

At the risk of violating metaphor-overload rules, I invite you to take advantage of the windows we’re opening into our world–our Handbook of Journalism and our blogs–to tell us when you see a distorted picture or when the view is foggy. Or when it’s clear and distinct.

Judging by the dim view of the media revealed in the Pew survey, we can’t open the windows too wide or too soon.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

It’s the beginning of the end for journalists – especially foreign correspondents. Good riddance.

Posted by PYC | Report as abusive

I love Reuters! Keep up the great work!

Posted by Dutch | Report as abusive

What use to be the—( MAIN STREAM MEDIA).
Is now…the—(Obama Media).
It is very sickening.

As a History major I dealt with many of the same issues discussed as a problem with journalism… I was able to read between the lines on many occasions. Unfortunately, I have my own bias in that I think the largest part of the problem has to do with conservative influences such as religion and notions of private ownership. Because I grew up in the 80′s and 90′s- or I dunno, because i grew up however i did, I am analytical of my self, psychologically I mean. So with that I tend to question sources and first acknowledge base reasoning. Today, everything is marketed, especially the news. It is unfortunate, because while capitalism seemed like such a great idea, it pans out to be one of the greatest usurpers of truth and justice. Perhaps this is due to the inherent flaws of humanity, those which Madison and Monroe ironed out in the constitution as the basic necessity for a government- to paraphrase, to protect man from himself. The truth is probably the hardest thing to sell because it is ugly. Mix that sentiment with the level of fear driving most people’s daily routines and you have a very ignorant populace who would rather believe what their marketers tell them to believe, and they can remain cozy within their own little market aisle. But perhaps im just a liberal, desirous of hearing my causes triumphs. As a rational person i have to hold both potential truths with the same weight, in my consciousness, until testing proves one or the other.
Newspapers are a whole other sphere of so-called journalism, because more-so in it’s realm you have activist journalist who can brow beat specific targets until a greater response is achieved- but then again Fox News was able to harangue members of the Obama administration recently to the point of retirement, so i guess it’s not just the newspapers…

Posted by james hendry | Report as abusive

I canceled my subscribtion to a paper newspaper because of bias,tone, and omision. I do not believe the media in general gives the American People credit for picking up on the obvious bias in the media. Sometimes it is the tone of the piece, alone,.. is so darn irritating. It is worst than a badly tuned piano from the shrill, lecturing,to the extreme ” take em’ to the woodshed” their all idiots articles. Omission is the greatest sin.
Two of three things I mentioned is not in your handbook.

Posted by Elizabeth | Report as abusive

Journalists? Where? The current crop(young and the VERY old) worry more about their hair and make-up than the accuracy of their stories.They don’t report real news if it offends the lefties,lesbos or loonies(democrats?)Anyone sending a kid to “journalism schools” will find a little “news maker” ,not a reporter.Just report it and most people will form their own opinion-except the enlightened democrats;these special people don’t even make the attempt to read the “legislation” they want to force on the American people.Please don’t think I mean this in a bad way but all you wackjobs can keep pretending to report the news and I’ll pretend to read it.There are many legitimate news and editorial sources;YOU AIN’T IT.

One Question…..
When you boil it down. How many people own, hence control the media?

I believe it was ~13.
How can you have truth with the elite in control of almost all media sources.

Posted by concerned | Report as abusive


Posted by charles bowen | Report as abusive

I hope you’re joking. Do you really think a revised “Handbook” is going to help turn the tide?
Here’s an idea: Journalism professors should be up front with their students about their prospects – in that they can expect a starting salary of probably less than $12,000/yr – if they’re lucky enough to even find a job. That’s with a four year degree from a state university.
As for the cool jobs working at the top newspapers – those are all reserved for Ivy League graduates. Been that way for years now.
Want to know why the media has gone to Hell? Why our corporations are all failing?
Ivy. League. Brats.
Spoiled. Incompetent. Entitled. Morons.
They write our news, they manage our corporations, they run our government.
Capitalism built America. Croneyism destroyed it. End of story.

Posted by cwriter | Report as abusive

How about: just tell the truth? And if you don’t have the necessary facts, say nothing.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive


I am a right-winger and vote right wing. I don’t see how I’m some sort of lemming. I’m conservative and independent, unlike your Democrats who want a Big Government system, less individual responsibility and more for the collective. Watch your mouth when you talk about me.

Regarding this subject:

The media is a necessary evil. Like playing with fire. The popularity of the internet demonstrates that people are looking for a more informed view. (or to further support their preconceived ideas). Not all media is bad. I find Reuters, (a British site?), to be more even handed with North American issues. Not clouded by opinion and away from the eye of the storm. I too canceled both daily newspapers, both were left leaning and I didn’t want to get up in a bad mood anymore.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Transparency is certainly a worthy goal but unattainable in some situations. We didn’t find out who Deepthroat was until very near the end of his life; which was probably for the best.

I would like to know where a reporter dug up their information. I would like to know the sources of their “facts”. One persons fact is another’s distortion. The tale of the blind men and the elephant applies. If I could know who is the source of the fact it helps discern how to interpret the data.

A larger problem within the major media outlets is that they have become pass through organizations. Corporation X releases their quarterly statements complete with commentary (which they are welcome to do) the press repeats it like parrots. That isn’t news. Just because its new or recent does not mean that its news.

I would have now qualms with the press passing through a company’s raw numbers, particularly if they also printed the company’s past numbers side by side along with the company’s estimates. That would a be a useful piece of data. It is useful to see that a company a year out is always pie in the sky and then revises downward as the actual reporting quarter gets closer. That is news.

On the political front it is much the same. Some group that has an agenda publishes a press release, and it is cleaned up a bit and passed through as if its news. It is “fact checked” to see if the facts match up with the original source(s) but is not “fact checked” to see if those facts were cherry picked to propagate the groups agenda.

As long as major news organizations are pass through patsies they will be rightfully distrusted.

I expect journalist to actually do more then re-write and red-pen what is fed to them by others.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

In the 70′s I took a night school class in print journalism, went forth and found a job as a small town newspaper reporter (such jobs were easier to come by back then). The prof of the class, himself a former small town editor, said he thought community newspapers were more accurate than the big boys. The reason? If you made a mistake or misrepresented somebody, that person would be “standing over your desk in the morning.”.

His comments, I found, were pretty accurate and the effect was to make me anal about accuracy. I think I had the “citizen over your desk” experience only once, and needless to say I apologized profusely.

In short it could well be that an additional reason for mistrust of the media (besides a perception of bias) is increasing urbanization. People don’t have contact with their closest neighbors, let alone the people reporting their news.

True, we now have online comments sections such as this one–but it’s just not the same as having the lady you just misrepresented “standing over your desk.”

Posted by Ted Wilcox | Report as abusive

If the US public does not trust the press, maybe it’s because what’s most commonly offered to them is — to speak politely — a very poor quality product.

Among large-scale news source dealing extensively with events in the US, Reuters is, in my experience, the only source that consistently provides facts rather than ideologically processed, entertainment-oriented, mass-mind-pleasing trivia. I’m not saying Reuters is faultless — that would be absurd — but in my opinion it’s head and shoulders above the crowd.

Reuters, you are already doing extremely well. Please work to increase both the quantity and the depth of your coverage, while continuing to provide good quality reporting with neither political bias nor subservience to mass-market advertising profits.

It’s a high calling.

More transparency is good… but the important issue is something else.

You can have all the transparency that you want, but if a newspaper refuses to publish a story, it makes not difference.

Consider the coverage of Rezko-Obama house and land purchase. A bit of analysis would show that Rezko transferred about $100,000+ to Obama (by paying full price for the land whereas Obama got a $300,000 discount on the house).

Or consider Michelle Obama’s salary jumping from $120,000 to $276,000 when her husband got elected Senator. Everybody whose salary has gone up by 125% in one go raise your hand. Can we say “crony capitalism”?

Now suppose there were a thousand news articles on the above (instead of maybe 10 that happened in reality), then Obama certainly would not have been President today.

So the important issue is not more transparency, but rather what the editor chooses to publish.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

I do not want to get up in a bad mode anymore either. To think writing this might change something is not reality but hopeful thinking. For some reason we either have a hidden agenda, or we believe other people can not understand or handle the truth about a given issue. Take for instance your articles about Obama and the debate over health care. The substance of the speech was not critiqued, instead we read about racism and lying. For one, all politicians are manipulating fabricators and the inaccurately used word of racism being applied to opponents distracts from the debate. National Health Care will affect States rights not only by determining the amount of care delivered by emergency care givers on emergency scenes but the standard by which they are delivered. Also the legal ramifications from one state deviating from another state besides all the red tape doctors well have to go through to get paid. Then who is covered under the plan. I do not know if any of this applies, so investigate. Tomorrow when I wake up to read your informative articles about the challenges of the day I will be inspired and confident to make rational decisions on issues that will affect not only me but all that will come after.

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive

I find EVERY national news paper or cable are biased beyond belief. Same stories, same spins, hour after hour and day after day. Even the news that I agree with are biased. I don’t want agreement I want independant thinking and make me think with good information. Why isn’t anyone yelling from the top of the roofs that the white house can apply ‘suggestion’ and pressure of being ignored if they don’t toe the line. Maybe every administration has done this, but not to the extent of what’s happening now. I don’t think it’s because everyone agrees with this but I think the power is in the hands of owners and government pressure and bullying. No one want to be on the outside of power. I am not a right or left, I am an independant who was so happy to see a black president but I didn’t see a black president I saw a man I trusted and liked and was going to give the benefit of the doubt. I am incensed to be called a racist because now I am disallusioned and disagree vehemently on the policies and the leadership we are getting. Obama has become an empty suit, talking a salesman talk, not a President. The congress is unbelievable and any criticize is not only tried to marginalize but lied about. Where is the freedom of descent, everyone certainly blasted away for 8 years without being called liars, racist, anti christian, or whatever. I have believed in many of the liberal points of taking care of the poor, doing more as a society, but they don’t want to do that, they just want more power, more control, and shut down anyone who doesn’t agree. I am scared for our country, for our freedom, and for my children. Is anybody out there? Is anybody there? Is anyone an honest broker and after the truth? Is anyone if they’re there able to tell the truth without being shut up or shut down?

Posted by Connie | Report as abusive

When reporting the news,
would it be too much trouble,
to just,
tell us what happened?

Posted by Raymond Helm | Report as abusive


Posted by charles bowen | Report as abusive


I agree with you about transparency. I also think that all in all Reuters is as fair as anybody out there. I am a busy man but I log on to your site several times every day to see the latest stories from a reliable source. It does bother me sometimes that you choose not to cover big stories that have been spun to death by other outlets. Especially since I would probably accept your version as truth and be satisfied without looking all over the net for a reliable source to get the true story.

A recent story that comes to mind is the Obama speech to school children. There were a good many outlets that denied that the “What can you do to help Obama” question ever existed. So the left ridiculed those who opposed this question by asking them “what’s wrong with the president telling kids to stay in school”? After many hours of combing the web for clues I’m convinced that the question existed and was removed from the lesson plans. Several outlets reported this issue with language along the lines of “Conservatives claim they are upset about language in the lesson plan”. They never bothered to verify that the language actually existed in the original plan, nor did even one of them ever report in plain language that the lesson plan had been changed, probably because this would have proven that the inappropriate language had in fact existed, as was claimed by the conservatives. To my way of thinking this amounts to a bald faced lie on their part.

I probably will never understand why you left this story alone. I believe you should make an effort to report the truth on these hot topic issues so those who might be hearing different stories from the spin doctors can get the real inside story from you. After all, you say that you are unbiassed, and if you really are you shouldn’t withhold anything to protect anyone, even YOUR president.

I admit freely that I don’t like Obama, but I can argue my reasons for disliking him without lies or denials. I don’t need to hear lies about him to dislike what he’s doing or what he stands for because the truth is bad enough. And you? Do you need to omit or lie to protect him or make him bigger than he is. If I ran a news service I would be looking to break the latest news and get it right the first time every time. No one could fault you for that. It is not the presses place to make or break politicians. The public can do that for themselves. Just stick to the truth so we can make the right decisions when we do.

Posted by Robert Gray | Report as abusive

It is good to see that all of these State Run Media news organizations will hopefully be needing TARP funding so they can keep reporting what the Obama Administration tells them to. Impartial reporting violates the State mandate that they uphold. Why not try reporting real news instead of what Oprah or Paula Abdul are doing, We The People deserve more from our SRM. Wht not try reporting about the fraud and lies of the current Admin. instead of dismissing the Majority of Americans as fringe groups and racist. Start listening to Americans instead of just a few rich Liberals.

Posted by Paul Roth | Report as abusive

Reuters, I always found you to be a professional news provider. And less openly biased then other news providers I could care to name.

But make no mistake, you have your bias as well. And we are all grown up enough to realise you know this bias exists, and that the placement of this bias into news articles is probably intentional.

I always end up confused by articles like this one. Where reuters confess to having bias, but say it will change its ways.

Are you seriously meaning this? That your bias is unintentional, and that you intend to prevent bias in the future?

Or are you instead making this comment to those readers who share your bias, in order to ‘salve’ their conscience at the fact that they rely on a biased news provider? With no actual intention that you will change your ways.

Oh well. Time to read up some more articles about Honduras, which always seems to mention the coup, but never the relevent constitutional provisions. Probably just another innocent omission right?

Posted by JoeyJoe | Report as abusive

Bias has always and will always exist. Anyone who studies human thinking knows this. If you are not convinced read books like “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior” or “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.” There are ways to get around bias. One is to listen to people who have dissenting views. Another is to have procedures to disconfirm your ideas. I think Reuters is taking a step in the right direction by letting us all see how they train their journalists to do the right thing. And admitting errors is also another step in the right direction. Just make sure that after you admit an error you also find out what mistake in thinking or in procedure lead to that error and you’ll make fewer errors while also increases our trust of this news organization.

Only 29 percent of Americans believe that news organisations generally get the facts straight,

Who are these idiots?

Posted by Harold Trout | Report as abusive

Transparency is not the answer… here’s an idea for ya:


Report the news. As it happens. NOT news that supports your idea of where public opinion should go.

I’ll tell you what you need: a good, solid, dose of HUMILITY. Stop thinking that your ideals and values are what every American should value. Let people make up their own minds with the information given! Alas… I forget that the power of the individual and his/her own mind to direct their own course runs contrary to the very ideology that directs your bias.

Well then, I guess it’s hopeless. Enjoy your sheeple.
I don’t read your trash anyway. There are too many more reliable sources.

Posted by Vanessa | Report as abusive

Transparency? How about just the facts? You know, truth and neutrality…Op Ed is where bias is supposed to be found.

Posted by Montgomery Reyna | Report as abusive

Thank you Dean for your Article and Thank you Reuters for the Handbook of Journalism. Reuters is setting and maintaining positive standards for Journalistic integrity while also providing forum for Blog Opinion and Information sharing as Stories Develop more openly in the Globally Networked Economy. We can feel comfortable that Reuters is both embracing the new and maintaining classical journalism standards that seem to be under some pressure by tabloid type media.

I think many of us here, find Reuters a trusted and reliable resource that edits when it needs to edit the vitriol (of which I am myself at times responsible) and provides forum for proper framing of open information sharing that begins to develop modern solid media stories.

Our information economy is in a state of transformative development and Reuters opening up their standards for review of the all-source-media community working to bring critical stories mainstream is a helpful guidline for us all.

Please consider me one that is grateful for the editorial sharing of the global reuters audience with all-source investigators that are interested in Systemic Honesty and Trust which is the basis of Good Economy.

Certainly the blogger is by nature more impulsive than the investigative reporter, but then again – we are not getting paid for our contribution to content creation.

We’d all like to see that change in a way that benefits valued content and I for one would embrace working with the Reuters Team in developing my device system that services that need effectively and provides a service to the professional news industry that increases its rewards for valued participants without degrading its integrity to providing the news.

Though right now, I’m pretty tired and very-very poor.

A hopelessly biased article, the content of which I believed less than 20%.

Posted by Robin Clarke | Report as abusive

So, the American media parallels the Venezuelan media. One independent station and the rest government run or controlled. We are the Obama Nation.

Posted by Richard Fandel | Report as abusive

I don\’t think the problem is with journalistic standards. The problem is whether journalists can do, and are doing, their jobs according to those standards. Bias isn\’t the biggest problem here–that\’s always been a problem, I think everyone is aware of that–rather, there has been a serious decline in responsibility on the part of networks and reporters and a corresponding increase in sensationalism, news-as-entertainment, erroneous reporting, and collusion between major news outlets, business, and government. Blogs have pointed out some of these links –when blogs release news before major newspapers and follow up on stories that get neglected in mainstream media, it looks like journalists are biased and aren\’t doing their jobs. Also, newspapers are only held by a handful of people– some of whom, like Rupert Murdoch, are known for pushing particular agendas in their news outlets–so we have no expectation of getting unbiased news. All of it comes down to just a few people\’s opinions of what news should be. Lastly, lots of so-called \”journalism\” e.g. CNN\’s fluffy reporting and Fox \”news\” lack substance, repeat the same stories endlessly, and even blatantly reproduce falsehoods–e.g. reporting on entertainment and new products (ipods etc) on the 10 o\’clock news (is this news or product placement?), or the Glenn Beck fiasco on birthers and concentration camps. When these situations blow up, networks think they can just smooth things over by forcing the talking heads to apologize, but when it happens all the time it begins to ring increasingly false.

Posted by Kat | Report as abusive

Transparency is not the problem. Most of the infomercials foisted on us as “News” or “opinion” are so transparent in their motives and backers that the border on farce.

Posted by Sternberg | Report as abusive

I no longer have a tv at home mainly cause I am disgusted on how main stream media over and over tries to isolate one’s mind from issues that really affect one’s life. News that really matter like the Federal Reserve, and legislation being rushed without our congress having a chance to read it or us Americans being informed about it. It is not mentioned by the main stream media. It is obvious that they are just a tool supported by corporate elites;therefore, average Americans don’t matter. Does the media ever talks about Monsanto? and how many of the poor health of most Americans is connected the the GMOs in our fodds (thanks to Monsanto! And complaisancy from regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect our food safety). Talking about natural cures for illnesses is avoided. Same thing goes for politics. An scenario is created where ones mind is set to think withing the boudaries they set. I like to remain a free thinker.

Posted by ivett russell | Report as abusive

Transparency in news reporting …

Wouldn’t this involve unveiling whose news is being reported as and when it hits the air? Good.

Wouldn’t it also explain why 99% of mainstream news sources make little or no apparent sense other than deliberately stultifying and marginalizing 99% of the world’s population? Even better.

Wouldn’t it eventually cut down Babylonic, hyena-like amusement at prevailing infotainment chaos, reveled-in solely by the repulsively insatiable 1% minority whose monetary dominance has been terminally afflicting news media delivery of late? It very well might.

Transparency in news reporting would entail identifying and reporting actual events in total distinction from inferior media of the who-said-what-to-whom gossip-column variety. Transparently, gossip is not news. Neither are commercial opinion polls, nor is partisan punditry, newsworthy – not under transparent conditions.

I’m all for 100% transparency of this nature. It would make for enlightened change throughout today’s chronically obscure media-intoxicated universe. Bring it on.

Then again, if transparency were to devolve into a banal series of token AdCouncil stabs at alibi *appearance of transparency* in news reporting – a la Greenwashing, say… Apparency? – it would be just another complete waste of time, public patience and (what else is new?) the public airwaves.

Transparency in news reporting … there can be only one.

Ever the optimist, I look to Reuters to deliver the former variant of this rare and pecious commodity, thus wiping the floor with the mainstream media “competition” whose effluent of late has been marinated in plutonomic opacity of the least trustworthy variety.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive

One of the things that strikes me is how news is ranked. For instance, we often see spectacular pumped-up stories of a missing person or murder. Rape can be front page news. But in my opinion, these are crimes often only involving a handful or maybe only two people. Back on page eight, in a little column, we see an important government decision just made that affects a major portion of the population for years to come. How is this influencing thinking?

Posted by robert bowers | Report as abusive

How ’bout reporting the news as it happens. NO ONE reported the ACORN fiasco, till it was sooo obvious that you all had no choice. I understand the liberal bias’, but put these aside and do the job that is described in the name of your ocupation, report…

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

I think the media today is probably less biased, more transparent and more accountable than it’s ever been. That’s not to say that it is unbiased, transparent and accountable, just that it used to be a lot worse. But at the same time, we’ve ceased to trust the media and I think that’s a good thing because it keeps them on their toes. The more an organisation is criticised, the harder it tries. Contrast that with a totalitarian state like Burma where the people in charge are utterly incompetent, but merely telling a joke about the government will get you a jail term. Distrust is very 2009 and it seems to work.

Posted by Patric | Report as abusive

Okay, I see now. Just because you open up your silly Handbook and read it aloud to us means that you have to be unbiased and true in your reporting. Or you will hold your own feet to the fire because you will quickly report mistakes and amend errors. Wow, that’s powerful!

Do you really want us to believe this crap? Why don’t you do this instead: have your industry lay fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars for outlets that have proven falsehoods or bias. Publicly fire reporters for faleshoods or bias. Really, do something substantial if you really want us to believe.

Posted by Eye Getit | Report as abusive

Maybe the sample was unscientific. I love commenting when I have the time to do so, especially when it is free and with flexible ‘House rules’. Moderating must be quite something ! One worrying aspect is when the person is played i.s.o. the ball, as that simply opens up a can of bees. The jargon, clichés, generalisations and acronyms can become quite tiring and interruptive to lucid debate. The point about being rewarded for ‘content creation’ is valid, but this is not an interview panel selection, our 15 minutes of fame is at stake here ! Becoming ‘fearful’ of and ‘enraged’ by news wires is in the eye of the beholder. To the conspiracy theorists, there is too much self-interest at stake with high levels of speed and competition to get the ‘scoop’. On that note, maybe we should worry more about how advertising agencies and movie makers scramble our brains.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

The “Media” is on a cusp. Those who wish to report news are faced with a choice…professionalize or face extinction. As a trade dealing with the question of whether to professionalize, journalists on the whole have yet to find the time to devote to standards, certification, and monitoring. With the current state of technology, almost anybody can do a slick production. If nobody tries to rise above the fray, the media as we have known it will disappear.

Posted by Carlson | Report as abusive

we are in a new period of yellow journalism during an illegal war and in the midst of corrupt deregulation, market derivatives, tax looting and the news is telling us everything is fine.

Posted by betealguiset | Report as abusive

You could probably start by not using words like “IKEA” as an “anti-spam” word for posting. Unbelievable.

Here’s the one thing I would suggest: absolutely no more “unnamed” or “anonymous” sources. I realize that YOU know who these people are and what their reliability is, but WE don’t. When people speak off-the-record, all they are risking is their reputation with YOU. Require the use of their name with their information, or else stake your own organization’s reputation on the accuracy of the info instead. Not willing to do that? Then I’m not so sure it’s newsworthy. If you won’t vouch for the source’s reputation in a meaningful way, then why should I trust that source either?

That would obviously cut down on the possibility of a reporter completely falsifying a story as well. That’s another huge factor in all of this, for me at least. There have been several high-profile scandals along these lines over the last 20 years or so, people who would apparently report on the reappearance of Elvis just for their own fame or fortune, if they thought they could get away with it.

Posted by P Thornton | Report as abusive

Cowardly journalism is the problem. When journalist are before important politicians they accept what the politician says without challenge. Obvious example: The 911 bombings, the war in Irag, etc. The only real courage I’ve seen in the past few years has come from the soldiers fighting these political wars.

We are now the media! It is no longer the guy who could afford to buy a printing press or a TV station and hire a staff. It is now the guy or gal with the handheld camera or a cell phone camera, a laptop and a webpage. The inclusion of the untrained excludes the use of any handbook. It is the new and exciting frontier of citizen journalism. Stop consuming the news and start reporting what you see.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

John Stewart. When compared to the mainstream media I would say he delivers about as unbiased a report as any…he picks on everyone! At least you know what you are getting and it’s humorous (at the end of the day I need the humor to laugh off the realities of the rest of the media).

I don’t believe it’s possible for the mainstream media to deliver fair and balanced reporting…based on who pays the salaries. You all have a vested interest in appeasing your handlers. Of all the media outlets I would say Reuters is one of the most unbiased…of the stories that you do report on.

The problem with your “handbook” is that it’s yours…the rest of the left-sided (corporate sponsored) media outlets don’t follow your handbook. There is no code of conduct being followed by the industry as a whole and therefore the public opinion will only get worse. You are not paid by the value and the breadth of the stories you cover. If you were this post would not exist.

As many have said before me here…just report the facts; all of them. Not your opinions (or managements) of the facts you choose to reveal. The American people used to rely on the media holding our elected officials to their promises…we no longer have faith that you can do that. And in my opinion we never will again.

Here’s a story you can start with: let’s see a story on the farce that is known as Global Warming (with a sidebar into IPCC). Take a contrarian view for a change and see what you find…

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

I think the problem with journalism is the prospect of losing the readers. All businesses rely on those readers being potential buyers at some point in the future, and therefore have basically sold themselves out. Yet when you try to report on the dignity you have left and say that you’re trying your best to report Real news, people start to sneer and start listing demands that would make them happy if you ever complied. The one problem I have with this is that people usually demand disclosed information regarding sources, practically endangering a source who’s probably only trying to help or wants their identity left secret. I say that as long as the information the source gives holds to true, who cares who they are. There is a reason why people go Anonymous. It’s so others won’t go looking for them. It’s a give and take with this world.

As I used to work for the newspaper, I really do understand the pinch you go through when reporting news and none of the journalistic fluff that sells out on newstands nowadays. It’s truly sad. When you report real news that’s reflective of the real world, people tend to scoff at it. But after it hits their front door with a bomb attached, then they believe that perhaps some venues of journalism aren’t out to be biased or make a cheap buck.

Posted by Catalyste | Report as abusive

Well, duh. Most of conservative America, who are the majority here, don’t trust media because of how obviously liberally biased many of their articles are. I mean when you read or hear a story, and then later on you catch wind of something the article or story never mentioned that is condemning to the Democrat party, you start to question what they are leaving out. Then when you see them all praising the Democrats who now control the government, you know that’s just ridiculous because no one’s perfect.

Then the most damning of all was this last election. All the hype about Palin where evidence against her was just nothing. They resorted to bashing and making a big deal of nothing, i.e… her dress, her daughter, Tina Fey on SNL. In actuality they were brainwashing. Most conservative, and probably a few liberals realize this by now.
Then, on top of that, Obama really did have legitimate concerns and evidence against him as to why he shouldn’t be elected, and the news media was all silent about it. They mentioned only one or two somewhat significant things, but the really big concerns were just swept under the rug and hidden. And now they show signs of continuing to cater to the Democrats by mentioning somewhat significant things here and there, but not really telling you what you would want to know.

And people are seeing this. People are not sheep, they have the ability to think and realize, and most conservatives have grown up with a think first for yourself mentality. And they are picking up on all of this. They may have been won over when there was a time limit and they were forced to make a decision, but now with time to simmer, they are realizing that news media really is biased and they are catering to their party. And right now most are liberal and that’s why people losing trust, because most are conservative.

I don’t believe most liberals have lost most of their trust of media because they love the Democrats and what the media says about them. They believe that the Democrats and Obama are mostly honest and no one can tell most of them otherwise.

But mostly, it’s because people are seeing the half stories and inconsistencies with reality and what the stories and articles are telling them. That’s why I don’t trust news media anymore, because I know that they are putting a spin on it and they aren’t telling me the whole truth. They are just telling me what they want me to hear, and they are spinning it so that I will take to the opinion they want me too. And some of these spins are on the borderline of lying because of what they are implying that isn’t true.

Reuters can begin the new wave of transparency by publicizing all it’s controlling owners and their interests.We know the news is siphoned.I heard Henry Kissinger say on Charlie Rose all the media in the U.S. is owned by 7 men.What is their agenda.Oh wait we’re sure it is obvious.Feed the monkeys and watch them deficate is their goal.

Posted by Blue Duck | Report as abusive

Everyone knows who runs the major networks…money and special interest. They sold out to the Bush Administration and the Iraq war…they allowed lies by the Bush Admninistration to go unchecked for several years…afraid of challenging what they knew to be false and misleading…why…money and sponsors…it looked bad to challendge anyone after 9/11…they forgot what their job was all about…too afraid to lose ratings…
no guts…and certainly no glory.

Posted by Kim Fournier | Report as abusive

Dean, a noble gesture but seriously, really? We are going back so many years of the press being so biased and censoring stories they did not want out in the public due to their agenda, that this seems so ridiculous. Even Richard Nixon in 1968 said that the press was censoring stories due to their agenda. The press has and always will have their liberal bias and they would rather see the newspaper/TV network go down in flames that to admit they were biased and change their turn (including Reuters). Anyone who believes you or anyone else in the press who is going to change their reporting style because they “now get it” is figuratively on crack. Why don’t you start with all the stories Reuters wrote about George W. Bush, change the name to Barack Obama, and then see if it flies. (Hint: not a one will)

Posted by Greg Gering | Report as abusive

As the most important tool to democracy, why cant the media be democratic?? Without this it is hardly possible to say we have any meaningful democracy..

Ive been studying this for many years now as I think it is the single most important thing to change in the world today.

Without the media’s compliance many major crimes would not be possible (like the invasion of Iraq) and many more would be exposed, like offshore banks and the enormous world of high profile criminals they protect every day.

News is opinion presented as fact. Just present it all as opinion and you half your problems.
It is prioritized, like any business, based on a manager’s opinion of what is important.
Visually, it is not read by the person who wrote it, but “presented” by a team of professional readers, with clean reputations and disassociated with the message itself to mask the fact that this has been written by one person who is of this particular opinion or view of an event, and edited by another that manages the companies interests in the stories content.

Not only is it anti-democratic, it’s hardly even interactive, even reuters blogs were never designed to help us interact with reuters news, just with each-other like any other news blog or chat-room.. to the extent that we cant even comment on real news-stories presented by reuters.com and have to settle for a blog version of the story so as we don’t have the ability to criticize reuters news itself, yet still feel like we’re “participating”. If you have a complaint it will be answered by an automated E-mail machine to further distance us from meaningful interaction.

No, media is business, and BIG business!! Marketing every product you can buy, love – hate or vote for.
But these days it is little more than emotional tabloid coverage echoing nationalist rhetoric on who to fear and who to trust and product placement stories from PR firms. The rest is just regurgitated, slightly edited copies of AP or Reuters stories with little to no time for fact checking because – why pay more journalists to investigate a story when they know we’ll buy it anyway?

Yea its a worry but who are you gonna complain to? The media? Who else has the power to expose such a thing??
Politicians? Who presents what they say and how it comes across? Their careers would end that day.
No private business/s should have that much power over democracy.

Free the media – Free democracy

Posted by brian | Report as abusive