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.

140 comments

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/

Why are we to suppose that the handbook published is the one being followed?

Posted by Daniel Mason | Report as abusive

Here is a nice little example:

Recently, MSNBC aired a story about a man carrying a gun at a rally. However, it was not apparent from the footage that the man was acually black. Here is what Greg Gutfeld had to say”

“So why did MSNBC go way out of its way to obliterate the race of “Chris”?

Because it didn’t fit the story MSNBC wanted to tell: That if you disagree with Obama, you must be a white crazy person with guns — even if you’re black.”

Posted by Glen | Report as abusive

While I agree, Dean, that transparency is tantamount in getting us to trust media again, I would suggest that to the average citizen, most media outlets are altogether blazingly transparent in their a priori political leanings already. The day of Walter Cronkite’s attempts at even-handedness are long gone, with the overwhelming majority of news being driven by cynical critique toward all things historically of value to the average American. We just plain feel like mainstream values of family, and love are being cast as being politically derivative. The average American citizen across middle America feels like media looks at them like right-wing uneducated buffoons, and out of their superior world-view is trying to snootily propagandize us to their more enlightened dogma. We’ve had it! Get some staff that represents the average American, not just uber metro politico types, like on GMA, and the rest of national news. Other than on Fox, what other major network has even one representative from the middle, or what media would call the right?

Posted by bruce newton | Report as abusive

It’s great that you can post a handbook of journalism and call that more transparent. The US government wrote a couple little things called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Now for all the fine words on the parchment the actions taken by the US administrations in the past few decades have been directly against those documents.

When I consider the coverage of the Vietnam war versus the coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan war I see no real coverage as to what’s going on there. When I consider how the media has responded to the 9/11 truth movement, either ignoring them are referring to them as kooks (after all what would hundreds of demolition experts, architects and engineers know about buildings falling down) with no analysis into their evidence you become a part of that lie.

The problem is not a lack of transparency, the problem is that in your actions you have shown us all too clearly exactly who ‘corporate media’ sides with.

Posted by Orgizmo | Report as abusive

Note to Daniel: The published handbook is the only one we have. It’s hard enough to manage one 500-plus-page handbook.

Posted by Dean Wright | Report as abusive

I love these arguments. First, you have on that comes from one biased source trying to critique another biased source. If you haven’t noticed, Fox news is just as biased. I mean — Glen Beck himself called Obama a racist, took it back, and then said he didn’t take it back. And this is from me watching Fox news. I don’t have to watch another media source to realize that just because you feel something doesn’t make it logical or in anyway based on a fact. That’s why they’re called FEELINGS. Lets get some actual support and not just information about how someone feels. I get enough of that talking to my girlfriend.

The second argument is ad hominem plain and simple. If you don’t know what that means;

An ad hominem argument has the basic form:
Person A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person A
Therefore claim X is false

That’s right. Just because someone tells you something, or reports something that is an issue that you don’t like, doesn’t mean that it’s not true. And just because someone is liberal or conservative, doesn’t mean they don’t make a valid point, or produce valid news.

Posted by Phillip M. Walters | Report as abusive

Cable news and respected news organizations like Reuters, the AP, etc. are two very different things. Unfortunatley, the MSNBC’s and Fox News’ of the world that cater to sensationalism and partisanship ruin the reputation of an entire industry.

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

I think one thing that would help is making it easier for readers to alert editors when there’s an error in a story. To do so now requires five or six clicks away from the article. Adding a “correction” button at the end of each story next to the various “share” options would be a lot more convienient, and eliminate the need to include which article is in question.

For what it’s worth, I find Reuters to be pretty straight journalism. Some of the bloggers are more open about their opinions, but that’s not a scandlous secret.

I glanced over the values and find “commission” but where is “omission”? Failure to report on the Tax Day Tea Parties (which I did not attend) was lamentable. Thousands of Americans in all 50 states participating in any activity is newsworthy. This, naturally, leads one of wonder what else you are omitting? And why? And who decided that we didn’t need to be informed? And with what agenda?

Posted by Elaina | Report as abusive

@”Orgizmo”: “…after all what would hundreds of demolition experts, architects and engineers know about buildings falling down…”

And I count YOU among those kooks. 1) I haven’t seen “hundreds” of credible professional experts as you cite, perhaps a few dozen, and it was easy to see they either had an agenda, or were infact “kooks”. 2) a group calling itself “Al Queda” with a leader “Asama bin Laden” (sic) did cheer quite loudly after the results of the attack and claimed credit for the act, and many acts after wards. It seems silly to me that the US Gov. would commit 9/11 and then allow this “Al Queda” to claim credit for the following acts. Occam’s razor says it was all completely committed by Al Quaeda. Knock of the idiotic conspiracy rants. It makes you look simply silly and foolish. Grow up and help us face the real threat, stop the childishness.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

I’m sure you’ve heard the joke that the media get 99% of the stories exactly right. It’s only the 1% that you know anything about that they get wrong. As I’ve aged I now realize that if EVERY story that I know something about is incorrect in some way that implies that EVERY story has 1 or more mistakes. Accurate reporting will go a long way to improving the public perception of the media.

Posted by John the Elder | Report as abusive

Dean,
Concerning your note to Daniel: We’re not asking out here for media to manage all the fine print in a 500 page document. If they merely handled the 10 absolutes…the ones that suggest to stay free of bias, and personal opinion. In fact, I don’t mind when either political polemic states their bias, but rather, when their overwhelming bias is couched as “accepted fact.” People of centrist Christian faith are all “right-wingers” (except of course, those who are liberal in their paradigm) to the media, Obama is so clearly the darling, and any, ANY republican is a rightful scapegoat…Marshall McLuhan was right: The Medium IS the massage. The media doesn’t attempt any longer to be the mirror to society, they are inebriated with a sense of their own power to be king-makers, and reality benders. Every page in the paper is suspect of being editorial in nature, rather than mere mirror. There is a serious political divide in the country that pits citizen against citizen, when there used to be far more unanimity even in discussion. Who profits from such irritation? Mainly one element. The media. They know everybody loves a train wreck, whether its political divide, or the ruination of a celebrity’s life. If you want to improve media,either in terms of their ethics or improved credibility, you have to start with their heart. Their aim right now is to divide us, not unite us, to gloat over lives ruined, not to bring any form of healing to us. In short, folks have begun to see media as the over-bloated, self-serving agency it truly is: They want money, power, at the expense of all of our well-being. And fear-mongering, or appealing to the most base of our instincts like sexuality gone amok, is the way to sell a headline. I wonder how your assignment of global editor in charge of ethics deals with that, and truly, what you consider ethical?

Posted by bruce newton | Report as abusive

I think your survey is right about most people not trusting the media , but I dont trust this article because its the media

Posted by mark browne | Report as abusive

This is funny. The only transparency I see is the transparent bias of media outlets like Reuters. The article I was reading when I saw the link to this blog was entitled “Conservative Christians assail Obama agenda”. First, ‘assail’ is a loaded word that indicates a fierce mob ganging up on a defenseless victim. Second, in the article we see the following passage:
“Most of those attending swim far from the political center.

“I don’t believe in global warming,” said conservative activist Kim Simac, a horse trainer and mother of nine from Wisconsin who also believes that the teaching of creationism and prayer need to be brought back to public schools.”

No substantiation of the claim that those gathered were far from the center and give as an example an individual who SUPPOSEDLY believes that creationism and prayer need to be brought back into public schools…a view that many centrists would find a bit off.

Let us not forget this passage:

“The Family Research Council also claims “Obamacare” will lead to federal funding for abortion — an allegation hotly disputed by the president and his supporters”

Make sure you throw that support in for Obama, I rarely see that tag-on done in support of any conservatives on reuters.

Summing up, the media has lost all credibility with the American people. It’s a bit late to talk about transparency.

Posted by Mike Freeman | Report as abusive

The so-called mainstream media shows their media bias towards the left and are too concerned with being the “first” to report the story, instead of getting it right. An example is the CNN coverage and misinformation of the Coast Gaurd’s training exercise on 9/11.Jeff Immelt CEO of General Electric, parent company of NBC, is an advisor to President Obama. Jeff has been place on the Federal Reserve Board by Obama. Jeff and GE stand to make a lot of monet with the initiatives Obama wants to get passed, the Cap and Trade and Healthcare legislation. What kind of objective reporting do you think NBC will do on the Obama administration? Do you think this is a conflict of interest?

The so-called mainstream media shows their media bias towards the left and are too concerned with being the “first” to report the story, instead of getting it right. An example is the CNN coverage and misinformation of the Coast Gaurd’s training exercise on 9/11.Jeff Immelt CEO of General Electric, parent company of NBC, is an advisor to President Obama. Jeff has been place on the Federal Reserve Board by Obama. Jeff and GE stand to make a lot of money with the initiatives Obama wants to get passed, the Cap and Trade and Healthcare legislation. What kind of objective reporting do you think NBC will do on the Obama administration? Do you think this is a conflict of interest?

Where are the real reporters? Not someone who just parrots the Govt. line on our State of The Union. What happeneed to the people who use to do real investigative reporting? Jobless numbers, fiscal numbers, Banksters crimes, FED refusing audits, illegal alien statistics are all bogus and reporters just repeat what the govt. wants us to believe.
Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of today????

Where, please tell, where?

Posted by kirk | Report as abusive

The reality is that, with access to the Internet, it is much easier to verify that media are misreporting the news. “Back in 1985″, people were less aware that they were being lied to and misinformed, and the laziness of reporting was not as obvious, but now one can see that mainstream media just (slowly) copy from each other, do not bother to verify sources, and perhaps call old YouTube videos their very own new discoveries…

Looking at the Acorn investigations posted on YouTube, I was amazed to see a ‘related link’ to a ‘CNN investigation’ which took the 10 minute YouTube video (10 minutes! On a 24 hour news day, who would have time to actually show that? Clearly Americans do not have that kind of attention span!) and reduced it to one minute clips, largely removing credit from the original authors, etc. It’s a pretty sad ‘investigation’ when you edited down an already short YouTube video. Just let it die already. Journalists are middlemen.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Trust the media? You have a lot of work to do. Here’s a start for you. Stop treating us like we are idiots! You give us distorted stories full of half truths with an OBVIOUS bias like we’re a bunch of drooling bobble heads with an average IQ of 40. I’ve spent two weeks now listening to media types calling me a racist because I disagree with Obama on a particular issue. That is outrageous! I VOTED FOR OBAMA! I don’t appreciate being call nasty names by ELITIST SNOBS in the media who think they have the corner on intelligence. Here’s an idea for you….. REPORT THE NEWS! It’s really THAT simple.

Posted by Mark Ottman | Report as abusive

Investigative journalism is dead…the media has been infected by capitalism and is the whipping boy of it’s owners which are for the most part to rich to challenge the bs that is spewed from corporations or government entities whose majority owners, upper management and officeholders are the rich…anyone see pattern here?

Posted by csodak | Report as abusive

Your Handbook in-and-of-itself is a perfect example of why the U.S. public doesn’t believe in the accuracy and independence of the media. I took a look at the Handbook (albeit cursory). Than I compared the edicts of the Handbook to some stories on your site. Guess what, the stories don’t reflect the Handbook. Just look at the article “Conservative Christians assail Obama agenda”. The headline alone carries undertones. And the stories you choose to carry are absolutely suggestive of a certain biased tendency.

So if you want your Handbook to be taken seriously, show evidence that it is being followed on your site.

Thank you, Sam

Posted by Sam Davis | Report as abusive

An other great exaple would be last weekend. Main stream media reported in Washington, a few thousand people gathered for the “Tea Party” protest, meanwhile multiple reports had it pegged at 1-2 million. Why would they purpossly down play the numbers?
I know many people were there for many different reasons, reguardless if it was Taxes, Heathcare, or just fed up, they are mad and had a right to express themselves.
Media has to “spin” the story that it was a few thousand “kooks” who are racist. No wonder “we” have lost faith, no other way to think. The Media has made it’s bed and now they have to lay in it.

Spend one hour watching a cable news channel (especially in the mornings when older people are watching) and count how many news stories play on fear. Count the number of commercials that do the same. Transparency is a good idea, but ultimately it does come down to editorial choice of all that is “fit to print”. The 24/7 news cycle, coupled with the internet have made for an out-of-control media

Posted by JoeInNorCal | Report as abusive

You will never eliminate bias from reporting, but you can be more transparent – and inclusive. Hire staff from across the political spectrum and state their leanings at the close of each article. when an article has been co-written by two opposing viewpoints, I am more likely to see a “fair” portrayal of the facts; maybe not perfect but fair.

Posted by Common Man | Report as abusive

Transparency?

OK – let’s start with who owns Reuters and Associated Press?

Who is still dumb enough to believe US media? I remember when the media was reporting the Hussein was working with Al Qaeda. This was immediately recognizable as untrue because Hussein was a secular leader who murdered anybody he saw as a possible political threat especially religious leaders – having witnessed what happened in Iran – the country he fought a long bloody war against for 8 years, to a stalemate.

The “media” is filled with crap, or more likely, CIA. Who is Reuters anyhow? Who is AP? Where do you make your money? Let’s see your accounting books, who is on your board. You DARE to write an article about transparency, the hypocrisy is so loud that few people will recognize the insincerity of it, and of course, that’s the design.

I pay for newsletters like Dines, Harry Schultz, the Aden Sisters, etc – but the US media didn’t see the inevitable housing collapse – according to them in 2004, anybody that believed we were in a housing bubble was CRAZY. But all the newsletters I paid for were spot on. Gee, who did the media miss this obvious event? It really didn’t take a genius to realize that once housing became totally unaffordable that prices would go down, and since most money in the banking system is loaned out for mortgages it would cause havoc in the banking system.

You’d be a FOOL to believe the mainstream media today but there are plenty of those.

The media in the US today makes Pravda look like a simplistic child’s approach to telling a lie. Most Soviet Citizens believed most of Pravda too, that was never told in the US media, but ask a former citizen of the USSR. You’re on the net, go ask.

Our media today was constructed by Edward Bernays, and it’s the most sophisticated propaganda machine in all of history.

I witnessed Yahoo take down their comment sections, and have seen “news” site after “news” site remove their comment sections. the media isn’t interested in reporting the news, or informing the public, or listening to the public – it’s there to convince the public that whatever is going on should be going on and that whatever policy was enacted was the right policy to enact.

It’s either controlled by our government, or more likely, controls our government.

Posted by Richard Wicks | Report as abusive

Actually, Reuters is, in my opinion, one of the most unbiased sources available today. Dignified, but not snobbish, there is objectivity in nearly every news story. I do wonder why there wasn’t better coverage of the recent rally in Washington. The pics circulating online prove that there were many, many more people than any of the news agencies have reported. How about an aerial shot of the city with most of the main streets around the capital completely clogged with people? Isn’t that newsworthy? I’d like to hear about it, not because I agree or disagree with anyone there, but because this type of protest rally on the capital is a first in terms of scale and represents many, many people who were willing to sacrifice their money, time and convenience to come to Washington DC. Where were you, Reuters?

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

Dean, I applaud your goal. Given today’s public climate, as evidenced by the replies to your post here, I think the success criteria you should bee looking for is as a news organization to be hated by all sides. Because in a sense today’s media *is* a mirror … the trouble in the media is also a trouble in today’s society.

Posted by torroid | Report as abusive

It’s the stories you don’t tell that is an issue. Days go by and not a hint about Van Jones. The ACORN mess and so on. When you finally get around to telling the story, like the MSNBC example above, very important facts are left out because they don’t fit the preconceived narrative. Or the facts are blatantly twisted – Van Jones, “low-level employee”, when he was hand-picked and given sway over hung chucks of our tax dollars. You don’t call out obvious crooks, Charlie Rangel, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, come to mind. Then anybody and everybody is a racist. I’m sick of it all.

I would like to read some true reporting. I’m not so out of touch that I believe that FoxNews and the Drudge Report are balanced, but they are at least pointing out the important stories.

Posted by Wendell | Report as abusive

To append my earlier post, the 24/7 news cycle runs in a frenzy without much oversight (in theory, editors are responsible for oversight, but who has oversight of the editors?). One issue that really bothers me is when a story is run that later is deemed to be false (such as the Death Panels incident). Facts are checked and apologies are made, but so much damage is done in the interim. It seems that there are more and more viral stories doing damage yet the amount of time dedicated to retraction is minimal compared to the amount of time the false information was initially run.

Posted by JoeInNorCal | Report as abusive

How much of this mustrust is due to the propaganda coming out of FAUX (FOX) news?

Posted by DE | Report as abusive

News is what the powerful don’t want you to know. Everything else is advertising. I’d like more news and less public relations flackery on Reuters please. That means quoting more dissidents and whistleblowers, and fewer “officials.”

Dean

Thank you for being sincere and recognizing that there’s a problem.

It’s not just the wording though that makes me distrust “Rooters.” It’s the choices of story coverage, and the way that stories will consistently focus away from the real issue at hand to an issue that makes conservative or free market opposition seem trivial.

For instance, in the Van Jones debacle, very few stories mentioned Jones’ belonging to a radical Marxist organization that disbanded fairly recently. Instead the focus was on his signing a petition and calling Republicans a bad word. So when journalists “forget” the fact there’s a self-confessed Communist revolutionary personally selected by the President in a policy making position, and instead focus on his language choices, that makes us not trust you.

I could go on and on. ACORN has a lengthy history of fraudulently registering voters, but it’s usually mentioned as “an organization fighting poverty that has long been the target of Congressional Republicans.” William Ayers is “controversial professor”, not a “self confessed terrorist.”

Posted by Who is Good Will | Report as abusive

The media is owned and controlled by a small handful of corporations,how can it not be corrupt? It took a young couple who paid for it on their own dime to bring to light the corruption of ACORN, and now is gaining momentum for a full congressional investigation into the organization. Where were the media, besides fox on this.Where is the media coverage on Sibel Edmunds when she said under oath that Osama Bin Laden was working for the CIA up until 911?
Another example recently is Charlie Sheen coming out with his 20 questions for 911 truth with Pres. Obama. All the media reports I saw were hit pieces on Charlie’s past and blowing him off as a hollywood kook, and not one report on his talking points.
I feel most Americans are a little wary of the direction this country is going and calling us racist for concerns about some bills going through congress is further distancing the media from the grassroots of America.
I turn to people like Wayne Madsen for my news now because it interests me, not what msm is reporting.

Posted by Jerome James | Report as abusive

How much of this mustrust is due to the propaganda coming out of CNN

Posted by Rat | Report as abusive

I wrote a very lengthy comments on five-5,Global Risks to this website.
You have mentioned that,posted by me,this is awaiting for moderations.
Do you know, how much time ,i have taken for it,
I am a prolific writer on any subjects.
Here, i am doing it for the sake of others, spending some spare times for useful and constructive purposes.
That was a totally relevant contributions,
All my writings are automatic, never taken from anybody!s words.
Till today, i am getting only mental satisfaction, follow the oldest sayings-Let Noble thoughts to us and to spread for everyone.
I do not want to get any recognition from anybody for small monetary benefits or to get any publicity.
This is for your introspection only.
If you do not want to publish it, you can straight away say, it can not be published.
Please understand everybody!s feeling on journalistic point of views.
Instead of spending more hours with my own earned amounts for system up gradation, times, in hard ,mid night hours with consuming coffee,tea,cool drinks and much power consumptions, then it goes to dustbin,that is not fair point of view.
Please tell me in advance for reasons for moderation or removing from publication and so on.
back to this topic, media should be free and fair from some unwanted, unfair censor can not be accepted, agreed on true journalism sense.
I have observed many times here, some editors, reporters are giving much coverages on well established countries capitalism thoughts.
I observed more journalists, medias supported ,and wholeheartdly welcomed Obama! election victory as a real democratic, and progressive mind set by Americans.
Now what Happened.
The answer is hidden,
One day it will be revealed.
I am neither belonged to any political party.
In spite of your rejections or postponing of my writings to this world famous news provider, still i am surfing this website, reading next days reporting from you,i am holding frank view of this news networks as a world number one in Business and Technology segments.
Hope for the best.

It is not true to construe from the polls that we distrust the media for not “getting the facts straight”. That is, in and of itself, a distortion of the facts. Facts are facts. It is the BIAS in reporting of these facts, that we have been fed like pablum since children, that we find so odious and so smug.

The major media ignore whatever does not pass the political correctness litmus test.

I’ve taken a brief look at your handbook, which might be improved by applying the advice of Polonius “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

It is neither accuracy nor balance that is required in stories. It is truth. Truth need not be balanced by falsehood. Accurate reporting of false opinions do nothing to inform the public. Truth alone should be the standard, and reporters should be sufficiently prepared to know truth from lies, with those failing this test removed from their employment.

Today I read a story about Iran. It is predictably biased against the country and its leadership. The stories about the recent election and the claims of fraud in Iran were vivid and frequent, in part because of the freedom to demonstrate that was permitted in the country. The more recent and much more notable election fraud in Afghanistan, where the US and Britain have an occupying army supporting a defective regime, receive far less attention.

Today’s story says the president of Iran said “The pretext (Holocaust) for the creation of the Zionist regime (Israel) is false … It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim,” — note the modification of the quote. He did not say the Holocaust, but the reporter and editor added this. He said Zionist, but the reporter and editor added “Israel”. Now consider the headline: “Ahmadinejad says Holocaust a lie, Israel has no future.”http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldis closure/wp-content/plugins/peters-custom -anti-spam-image/custom_anti_spam.php?au dioselect=182765

In my opinion, this is not what he said. I heard the president of Iran speak at Columbia University, where he said that he felt research should be done on the Holocaust — not that it was a lie. Anyone reasonably informed would say that the treatment of Nazi actions as a solely Jewish event is designed to give a false impression. The events were real, the characterization is misleading, perhaps intentionally so.

What Ahmadinejad said might be more accurately interpreted as claiming that the use of the Holocaust as a pretext for creating the State of Israel is a falsehood — something concealed by the headline and additions to his quoted words. The Zionist movement began a half century earlier and the violence which eventually produced the State of Israel began before the Holocaust. The Holocaust has nothing to do with the existence of the State of Israel, but is used by some to justify the decades of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians — ranging from rape and murder of innocent civilians to the targeting of UN personnel and journalists to the wholesale destruction of the economy of the Palestinian people — all in pursuit of Greater Israel.

Reuters cannot deny history or manipulate the words of Iranians and expect to have credibility with an informed audience that seeks the truth.

First off, to pretend that “objectivity” exists in journalism and is something worthy of pursuit is nonsense. It is impossible to present a set of facts without a point of view. The arrangement of the information, what to choose for a lead paragraph, what information to include, what to leave out, and finally the choice of a headline and any photos to accompany the text are all point-of-view matters. Until we have computers writing news stories instead of reporters…oh, wait…who programs the computers?

Next, a “free press” exists only to the extent that you own one. Whoever owns the form of media being viewed, whether it be TV, radio, newspapers, a website or blog, etc., controls what appears. And with that control comes bias toward the political/economic/social point of view of the controller. A previous commenter asked “who is Reuters anyway, who is AP?” This is a legitimate question. How much tough coverage of energy issues and the military/industrial complex can be expected from NBC, which is owned by General Electric. GE is heavily involved in energy, especially nuclear power, and is a major defense contractor. Are we really to believe that such corporate interests don’t filter down into editorial policy. It doesn’t even have to be explicit, just a general understanding about what is to be taken seriously, and what is not.

Finally, the 24/7 news cycle, introduced by CNN, has totally corrupted news gathering and news dissemination. What we have now is not news, but infotainment. Cable news in general is particularly guilty of this, and not just FAUX News, which is only the most egregious example. Cable news grabs onto a relatively minor story, Michael Jackson’s death for example, and hypes it day after day, week after week. My wife and I took to joking about “Breaking News! Michael Jackson is still dead!!! This was a one day story gone mad, but is typical of how the 24/7 imperative has grotesquely missphapen the news gathering and dissemination process.

I could go on and on, but I fear that democracy itself is at risk when bottom-line driven infotainment, controlled corporations with their own agendas and delivered by the boob tube is the staple information from which the electorate develops its opinions about the world.

Posted by James R. Cook | Report as abusive

Ultimate transperency from the media-try getting NPR to admit their strong leftist bias, funded by taxpayer dollars no less. Get the media to publish how each reporter has voted in last several Presidential and local elections along each story Prove to us that 90 plus pct of the US national media does nor vote Democratic almost of the time Have the predominantly leftist media allow the general public who might not agree with them on issues an opportunity to critique stories beforee they are published Make sure to report stories that are relevant even if your staff would prefer that some conservative issue might get favorable coverage If your responses are anywhere close to the response that the NPR Ombusdman gave me last year to these suggestions, you will answer for yourself why the media has so much inherent bias, and only contributes to polarization among people on political, financial and social issues

Posted by Craig | Report as abusive

News Trustworthy??? Most people watching the US news don’t believe its even news. No its just stories filled with commercials. The sad thing is most countries around the world are also watching US news. Wonder what they think, wonder what they report on a particular story to their watchers. US news has been off the track for years. Most folks will search the internet or other sources for the “real” news. Blogs, web sites etc. carry far more truths them the news. The funny thing is corporate news just hasn’t figured that out. Transparency??? What about just bare, honest news not guides by political parts, or affiliations.

Posted by Harry Hallstrom | Report as abusive

We want MORE Michael Jackson and less politico and economania!!!

Posted by mactek | Report as abusive

This is a good philosophy in theory, now let’s see Reuter’s actual practice:

“Opposition to abortion rights and gay rights long have been leading rallying cries of the religious right, …”

In case you cannot discern the tone, you have chosen to pre-judge those of the Religious Right in your statement by saying they oppose “… rights …”. Keep in mind that from their perspective, murder and interference with sacraments are not “rights”. A more proper statement would be:

“Opposition to abortion and gay marriage are defining positions of the Religious Right, … ”

In such a statement you are not taking sides on the issue. Not taking sides is critical if you are going to claim neutrality.

The press is far from neutral: either it is highly liberal or highly conservative. That is why you are not trusted.

Posted by Archangel | Report as abusive

Reuters “objective”? What a joke! I read your Handbook which is about as credible as reading the old Constitution of the Soviet Union. Do you Lying Leftist Lackeys really believe you have no agenda? Do you Socialist Shills really believe bias isn’t stuffed into every dishonest story you make up?

Your pretenses at Reuters are indeed a powerful emetic!

Posted by johng | Report as abusive

Journalists are untrustworthy, inaccurate and biased. In other news, the sky is blue.

I don’t think that “being transparent” is going to fix the public’s opinion of the media. Actually doing your job in reporting the news accurately and without bias might help.

Saying “Here’s our ethical guidelines, see we must be on the up-and-up” is like saying “We say we are innocent so we must be innocent.”

I realize that in the Twitter age many news agencies feel the need to report quickly, but as supposed PROFESSIONALS you should check your facts before you report things as facts. In my position, I’m privy to a lot of information that ultimately gets reported in the news. When it comes to things I’m privy to, I’d say that on a good day the media gets all it’s “facts” correct about 50% of the time.

And the media loves to only tell half the story – the half that will either strike fear into the hearts of the public or enrage them – hey, that kind of reporting sells. They tend to leave out the positives or “feel-good” aspects of those same events. Telling only half the story is often equivalent to lying – ask any parent dealing with children who are experts at the “half-truth”.

The media also loves to characterize and polarize their stories. Take the recent ACORN stories. Instead of being reported as the discovery of corruption and illegal activities in a partially government funded institution (something that ALL people should be happy about), most media outlets characterized it as a victory for conservatives who have been “out to get” a liberal organization even though votes to limit funding of ACORN were overwhelmingly bipartisan.

And trustworthy? How about reporting on comments made by the president that were supposed to be off the record.

Any media outlet that was truly willing to do some self analysis to see why the public no longer trusts them could find dozens of stories in this past week alone that exemplify their problem.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

I heartily agree that a much greater degree of “transparency”, as it has been defined here, is a necessary element today’s national media hope to reverse the decline of readers’ beliefs in the medias’ honesty and accuracy.

I think that transparency is, however, a NECESSARY, but not a SUFFICIENT reason.

Beyond “transparency” of HOW stories are reported, we must also have an even-handed approach as to WHICH stories are reported from among each day’s important stories.

In today’s media, many stories are simply ignored or “buried” because they do not fit the media’s preconceived view of the ongoing national narrative. Too many people in the national news media have taken sides, and their biased viewpoint is used to screen out stories which the majority of Americans appear to think SHOULD be reported.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

this is beyond the media, really. this is about the american people getting tired of centralization of power and the corruption it breeds. look at what is going on not only with the media, but with opposition to government. the tip of the iceberg is just starting to show.

we are tired of it, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is unsustainable and obsolete. the internet gives us a much more free market and competition in media, we have the freedom to research something of interest. to hear many points of view closer to the source, and make our own decisions based on what’s presented. consumers are rejecting what we see as a lousy product. and with such free access to information it’s not exactly hard to see how the presentation of “news” can be absolutely and utterly misleading.

the real funny part is watching the media powerhouses react to it. they can’t understand how to solve it, and how to get people back under their wing. they are scrambling to marginalize, refute, and ignore those who are rejecting them in a futile attempt to sway the tide. and in doing so they are simply making themselves more and more obvious all the time. these big bloated messes of power are self destructing. they can’t stop it any more than the music industry could stop the massive filesharing epidemic, or the surge of independant artists who now found a means to promote themselves directly to the public.

the disillusioned masses are starting to realize how much they’ve been toyed with and had a neatly packaged product shoved down their throats.

and that there is alternatives…

Posted by asx | Report as abusive

As any responsible journalism professor will tell you neutrality is impossible but should be the objective of any good reporter. This is not an oxymoron but a simple call to journalism students and graduates (i.e. reporters) to be as factually accurate as humanly possible.
In regards to the subject of this editorial, it’s interesting to note that the level of Americans’ trust in news dispensation has gone down in direct relation to the corporotization of the American news media. As someone pointed out, NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the nation’s biggest arms manufacturers. Do I expect NBC to be anything but a cheerleader for war when the parent company stands to reap billions of taxpayer money to replace spent weaponry? I’d be a fool to.
Now let’s take a look at the run-up to our little imbroglio in Iraq. American news organizations have busily rewritten history saying that they could not have known that the Bush administration lied to get us into war. For example, the infamous aluminum tubes that could be used for nuclear weapons. Almost every major news outlet in the U.S. made headlines for days out of what was clearly a baldfaced lie. To find the truth was actually pretty simple. All you needed to do was read the major press in Europe and the Middle East (which I did via links provided by the also cheerleading Drudge Report) where they made hash out of that claim in less than 24 hours. Even the New York Times trumpeted this doodoo on the front page in articles written by Scooter Libby’s buddy Judith Miller who helped expose an active CIA agent via Libby a few years later. That same day the NYT printed a much smaller article about nuclear scientists calling the administration’s claims bunk on page 8.
And lest I be perceived as just bashing only supposed “liberal” news outlets, let me address the right wingers who oh so love Fox news and its supposed support of family values, apple pie, etc. or more specifically Rupert Murdoch. It was Murdoch who introduced the topless page 3 girl in the Sunday edition of the British tabloid he owns when it was trailing its biggest competitor in sales. This is a man who trumpets his conservative family values principles when talking to the right wing but plasters tatas on every good Christian’s sabbath newspaper. He also broadcast the most sexually gratuitous and generally crass shows on the Fox network (Temptation Island, Married With Children) so beloved by the Jesus crowd.
As for the poster who called out Reuters on the Ahmadinejad quote. Right on. I’m no fan of Iran’s probably illegitimate president but it is not for a reporter or his/her editor to put inferences in parentheses or in a headline. You can do that in an editorial but not what is supposed to be a straight news article.
As for the Tea Party crowd complaining about the coverage their protest in D.C. last week, welcome to the club. When over a million people in one day all over the country (including an actual 200,000 in New York City) protested the run-up to the Iraq war and the press gave it virtually no coverage, I didn’t hear you complain. When the press made the 1999 Seattle WTO protests out to be one giant anarchist riot when in fact maybe a dozen dunderheads out of over a hundred thousand people (including Grandmothers Against War)smashed a few store front windows and torched some cars on mostly one street, I didn’t hear you complain about misrepresentative coverage (I had a friend who was an eyewitness to what actually went on). You just bought the b.s. because it suited what you wanted to believe (them evil libs).
The fact is, the ideologues, both liberal and conservative are right: you can’t trust the mainstream press. And for the rightwingers, anything Rupert Murdoch owns qualifies as mainstream press too. Do what I did in regards to the infamous aluminum tubes and dig a little deeper, look at disparate sources. Certainly when it comes matters that affect the national well-being you should consider it an obligation. The founding fathers understood that a democracy requires an informed citizenry. It’s why Jefferson started the University of Virginia, which was supposed to be free and open to anyone. Jefferson wasn’t right about everything but he sure understood the power of information, which is why he wanted people to have access to it and to discuss it.

Posted by Chris Foulke | Report as abusive

In some ways I think the data are misleading. I trust some of the media to get things right much more than I do other parts. Reuters is one of those parts that I trust, for example. Other wire services I do not trust as much. I think one of the major differences is story attribution. By the mere fact that Reuters puts the journalists’ names on its stories, I think it helps keep them more motivated to do a good job, to research and verify the information they are presenting, and to remain neutral in reporting. Not the sort of artificial neutrality of presenting both sides without comment that passes for journalism in many places. The kind of neutral view that comes from simply reporting facts. Speaking of which, I particularly like the “FACTBOX” articles. There’s nothing like verifiable, sourced facts to cut through all of the nonsense arguments that others in media occasionally try to give credence to. Please keep up the good work. Other news organizations would be well served if they imitated this organization’s commitment to facts and the truth.

Posted by Mike McLaughlin | Report as abusive

Hey, reuters. Any hospitals blown up lately? Or did the bomb land outside the hospital again?

Oh well, one is as good as the other for ‘balanced reporting’ right?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

It is not transparency that is lacking in the media — it’s a lack of bias. Each news organization is either “liberal,” “rightwing,” etc., having its own agenda in doling out news. What you CHOOSE to print or broadcast, furthermore, is as important as what you ACTUALLY SAY when you do. I, in the past 20 years, have seen the very neutrality in which journalists typically couched their words degenerate to the purely inflamatory. Just stop giving us your politically biased editorials (because everything that you read these days is an editorial) and start going back to precise, well proofed journalism. Perhaps then, we might start believing what you say.

Posted by Brenda | Report as abusive

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

THE MEDIA SUCH AS FOX AND DRUDGE AND MOST OF THE NEO-CON CONNECTED OUTLETS ARE NOW AND HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST NOTHING BUT BALDFACE LIARS THEY HAVE ABSOLUTLY NO CREDIBILITY AND YET THE LEMMINGS ON THE RIGHT WILL FOLLOW THESE LIARS TO THEIR DEATHS. THEY ARE LIARS ! A LIAR IS A THEIF WHO STEALS YOUR TRUST. IF YOU CANT TRUST WHAT THEY SAY ONLY AN IDIOT OR A MORON WOULD FOLLOW THEM. WHICH CATAGORY DO YOU FALL UNDER. DEMAND THE TRUTH AND SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS!

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

TO THE GUY WRITING IN CAPS:

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

TO THE GUY WRITING TO THE GUY WRITING IN CAPS. MY APPOLIGIES FOR HAVING RUFFELED YOUR REPUBLICAN FEATHERS. I TOO FIND REUTERS TO BE VERY EVEN HANDED IN THEIR REPORTING UNLIKE FOX AND DRUDGE. ALL IM SAYING IS THAT HALF A STORY IS HALF THE TRUTH I MAY BE A BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL BUT IM SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT THE TRUTH LIES SOMEWARE IN THE MIDDLE BETWEEN US. YOU GOTTA LOVE THE INTERNET IT HAS BECOME OUR WEAPON OF MASS DISTRACTION! CHARLES BOWEN BROOKFIELD, NEW YORK HAVE A NICE DAY!

Posted by charles bowen | Report as abusive

Dean,

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:

DO. YOUR. JOB.

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

I’m 59 years old. I actually remember when the news was just the facts, validated before the story went public. Opinion and analysis was only printed in the opinions section. The printed news also used to be edited for typos and grammer before being printed. I also remember when criminal cases were judged in court, not in the press. For factual reporting I usually go to the BBC. I used to admire reporters. Well…no more.

Mass media is already transparent. It’s what you transparently ARE that is the problem. Wise up. We simply gagging on your pablum…your vision of a one-world socialist utopia with everyone wearing mao blue serge and riding lithium rickshaws, smiling, red cheeks, bulging female biceps. You make us sick. Sick to death. Transparency my eye.

Posted by raul tsan | Report as abusive

How about doing the job of being the peoples watch dog? When was the last time any of you did any investigative reporting? When a politician tries to make light of an issue, push it home! Double check everything coming out of Washington, I don’t care if it’s Republican or Democrat!

“Airplanes Fly into Buildings” – Reuter’s headline about 9/11. Remember, Reuter’s doesn’t allow use of the word “terrorist”.

Mr. Wright, your whole thesis is based on a falsehold – that journalists are professionals who adhere to a code of ethics. Most journalists are liberals who attend a liberal arts school and are there to “make a difference”, vs. simply reporting what really happened. They hang out with other liberals who have done the same thing and in their defense it’s actually possible that they don’t know that there’s an OTHER side to the story they’re reporting, they just don’t think it’s worth researching or actually FINDING a conservative or a republican to get their take. It’s easy to find liberals and democrats – they’re who they hang out with.

Print and TV “journalism” is dying – done in by journalists via their bias. THAT’S the real story. It’s not suprising you either didn’t recognize it or CHOSE not to report it. Have fun waiting tables.

Posted by thomas | Report as abusive

The Main Stream Media is definitely unreliable. They report what they want you to read and leave out all they wish to hide. The latest Presidential election was a perfect case in point. Neither Obama nor Biden was ‘vetted’ by the Media. No associate of either, especially the Chicago bunch was interviewed nor reported concerning Obama. I firmly believe if the MSM had done their job Obama would never have been elected as POTUS! It was obvious he was not a qualified candidate.

Posted by mark carswell | Report as abusive

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

Eh, no – the proper response is to stop repeating verbatim what politicians say, stop pandering to corporate owners and for journalists to walk when forced to write something they know is wrong or misrepresentative or just plain lies – the papers won’t write themselves. Most journalists DO have integrity, they’re just like everyone else in that they don’t want to lose their jobs. A little solidarity among hacks wouldn’t go amiss in such situations.

Oh, and can we drop the idea that news gathering and keeping the public informed should be a for profit venture? As long as shareholders and millionaires (well, billionaires, actually) are shaping the direction of news coverage the stuff that gets published isn’t worth a damn.

Posted by Stephen | Report as abusive

I am so glad printed press and tv is dying, I hate paper and shallow journalism.

It is good that liberals and democrats are around, judging by the number of conservatives and autocrats we have to deal with on a daily basis.

For the conspiracy theorists, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reuters, the simple information page for simple people.

For the rest type ‘news wires’ into Google and see what comes up: Reuters is certainly the ‘un-dullest’.

Posted by Casper Lab | Report as abusive

It is an absolute violation of jounalistic ethics, if there is such a thing any longer, to be in bed with a political party or cause. Freedom of the press is predicated on separation from ideology. Once the lines are blurred, one must go elsewhere for information.

Posted by Warene Fletcher | Report as abusive

a lot of these comments miss the mark, because of the authors’ refusal to recognize their very own bias. for instance, i recognize that The Huffington Post is going to report/comment on topics and events that i am concerned about, being a moderate liberal; just as it is obvious to me that FOX news’ punditry (as there is very little actual “journalism” going on there) will invariably fill me with disgust and rage at the myopic social conservatism promoted therein…and then, most information available is mostly always second-hand reported. sure, i prefer to be catered to; we all do – these newest comments on this blog make that very clear…at the end of the day, it is OUR job to vet the candidates AND the media; it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to find and compare facts (or what is reported as fact); it is UP TO US to discern reality amid a media culture that is intractably polluted with corporate interest and 24-hour news cycles. Transparency – in the media AND it’s consumers – is definitely the key.

Posted by iris | Report as abusive

I agree with the general message.

Along these lines, I am very concerned about the connections that the media has with larger coporations. For example, everyone knows that NBC is owned by GE; GE is a major government subcontractor. Is it possible for NBC to be biased? Is it possible for them to have an agenda? I would say – it’s very possible. The disclaimers that NBC used only informs us of a feduciary relationship when reporting on GE; but they don’t indicate if the stories or investigation have been toned down or not. It’s up to us to create our own hypothesis. So under these circumstances, NBC and other networks are somewhat discouraged from doing “Real Reporting” as has been seen years ago.

It is very important for the media to be truely capable of objectively, and aggressively investigating to produce the best quality news and information so America can respond as America NEEDS to respond versus being lethargic.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

If I were teaching Journalism, I would be asking my students to produce five examples each day of biased reporting. I would require that they include
any omission of fact as being part of the examples turned in. This would require them
to perform a task that most readers have no time to do. They would have to research the facts behind
the information presented and determine if the whole truth is told. I include an assignment that would ask them to consider sentence structure and usage with regards to poll questions and the impact on results of the questions asked. At the end of each week I would assign a paper that would require them to compile thier
research to find a pattern that might expose a biased reporter. It is the methodology of doing this that would teach them how to think and not what to think.
The final would simply be for them to apply what they have learned to a historical context to produce
a paper that would surmise the effect of their findings on the chosen historical context, like Cronkite with Tet.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Any reporting on issues that touch politics will always be seen as slanted, especially as long as reporters and editors try to take a “fair and balanced” view of the issue.

It is this type of approach that leads readers to question the motives of the writer, as the specific quotes and facts chosen for an article almost always leave something out.

Writers and editors would be better off to stop viewing political balance as something that must be struck between Democratic and Republican (or liberal/conservative) points of view for several reasons.

First, this is a false binary. The truth is that there are more political perspectives and dichotomies than simply right vs. left.

Second, attempting to balance an issue between republican and democratic perspectives creates a situation where the writer and editor must do their best to obfuscate their own perspective on the matter, in so doing, they do a disservice to the discourse by presenting two unequal arguments as equal, and, as a result, presenting two unequal political perspectives as two sides of the same coin (essentially equating these two perspectives as polar opposites, which they aren’t, since both Democratic/liberal and Republican/conservative perspectives can both be traced back to the liberal philosophies of Enlightenment thinkers and founding fathers.

Until relatively recently, it hasn’t been (and should cease being) the responsibility of writers and editors to play mediator for the two dominant political parties in the United States. Instead, writers and editors should put the (largely) ivy-league-educated heads to work by thinking critically and presenting valid and rigorously researched analysis when presenting news.

It was the failure of the press to do this kind of critical thinking that allowed myself and the rest of America to be duped into a long, expensive, and useless war in Iraq. A war that, in the history books, will be (accurately) referred to as the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Ironically it’s the US that will be represented by the camel.

Posted by Ari | Report as abusive

Transparency, insight into methods used(suggested) are completely irrelevant when reporting is inaccurate or blatently false.
People are wiser than you think and even though we don’t all write in about fallacies or blog about biased reporting we see it and know better.
In just a recent case, one of Reuters articles referred to, and I quote” A Gallup poll in July found that only 30 percent thought the Fed was doing a good job, the worst of all government agencies measured.” End quote.
The federal reserve is not a government agency. This poll implies that it is in the “above and beyond reproach” aura that eminates from government agencies. Whether this be a result of not fact checking a poll or deliberate missinformation it should still be retracted.
This is why no one trusts the media. Let alone the historical bias towards the current wars peaking during 9/11.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Money is power. Power is control over something. Control over information is called media. Therefore I offer this hypothesis. Money = Power = Media. If you have it (Rupert Murdoch) then you can make your own network and promote your own viewpoints. It’s capitalism at its best. That’s not sarcasm, just a fact of life. I am willing to venture a guess that most American’s in the 50′s thought their news was unbiased, but of course the powerful had an agenda in the 50′s and 60′s. But even if you take out money (take away commercials and socialize the stations…) you will still have governmental influence on media. (Iran, North Korea, and Russia’s English papers.) In essence if someone didn’t have an opinion on something it wouldn’t be reported because no one would care. So the people who care in my generation have turned to Blog Journalism and read many differetn sources…so how about the other generations start researching a little bit and form their own opinion? (Not that we all have the time in the day to do such a thing.) At least before you scream your opinion off the top of a rooftop, find a dissenter and have a debate, you will be shocked at what you can learn about your own views…

Posted by n8 | Report as abusive

Journalism has a lot of ground to cover in cleaning up its act. When I went to graduate journalism at U. of MO in 1990-93, “Ethics” wasn’t even in the curriculum. One professor told me point blank, in front of a class, that nobody who has not worked as a journalist has any right to criticize journalism (At the same time, he could not explain why journalists are allowed to report on physician malpractice). I got the same response in a rejection letter from the editor of the Columbia Journalism Review. Another time in class, I mentioned government’s hacking away at the Second Amendment. The instructor literally shrieked: “GUNS? DON’T COME IN MY CLASS AND TALK ABOUT GUNS! I’M A GODDAM NEWSPAPER REPORTER! I KNOW WHAT GUNS DO!” Feminism, on the other hand, is a sacred cow. Any woman can do anything she likes in journalism school. Anybody who objects is a sexist. Same with people of color. Anybody who objects is a racist.

At the other end of the spectrum, journalism screws up when they paste the label “journalist” on people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. I overheard a conversation between faculty members one day who were discussing the idea that people who make as much money in media as Limbaugh does cannot be excluded from membership in the profession. And there’s the rub with me. From what I saw of journalists and journalism, it’s all about money and political clout. Nothing else matters.

I went to J-school wanting to be a journalist in the mold of H.L. Mencken. I got my Master’s degree and left thinking I’d rather eat a whole platter of sh*t (without a fork) than work as a journalist. The late Hunter S. Thompson once said “Journalism is a low profession.” So it was that not even Dr. Gonzo got it right: My experience of it was that “journalism is the lowest profession.”

Posted by Deacon Solomon | Report as abusive

When you are that broken, you can’t fix yourself.

Posted by bruce | Report as abusive

Two words: Information Overload.

A participant in the debate suggested that in the good old days “Opinion and analysis was only printed in the Opinions section”. Well, looking at this home page layout, headings and captions, and if you think about it, we are smack bang in the ‘Opinions page’. It is also clearly stated that views are those of the columnists. Regular articles are of a good standard and closed to debate. The only difference is that we are not limited to ‘Letters to the Editors’ anymore, and we are much more informed and opinionated than generations before us. Even though wire service are supposedly 24/7, very few participants are from the Eastern Hemisphere, so it is really a 12/5 effective wire service. What I would like to see is and ‘Educate corner’ where bloggers may submit educative blogs on spec.

The press duped us into the Iraq War ? Come on.

As far as information overload goes, I stopped reading printed media and looking at outdoor advertising and road signs for that reason, and if the kitchen gets too hot, move to the TV room.

Gonzo was on drugs most of his adult life.

Posted by Casper Lab | Report as abusive

As I said in a previous (possibly censored) post.

Don’t just tell us you are biased. Tell us *how* you are biased. Show that you want to be honest with your viewers.

Don’t just tell us what facts you miss. Tell us what facts you deliberately *omit*, and how you believe this effects the perception of your articles.

Otherwise, I do not see a genuine attempt to improve the quality of your reporting. Only the impression of such.

If this post is not published, I will have my answer.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

It’s all biased, conscious or unconscious, and sometimes the unconscious bias can be worse than the conscious bias. All major networks are corporate owned, and reporting on stuff like politics and the environment is both corporate- controlled, self-censured.

Also, in the past 20 years news has had to pass the same litmus test as entertainment: it must sell, and it must be trendy. You have to read several different sources of news, and you have to read a broad spectrum of analyses for news to be informative.

Blogs are a double-edged sword: run well they can be great educational sources, but usually the blogger alrady has an opinion, and they are so certain of their rightness that they think nothng of deleting out uncomfortable or opposing opinions.

Then there are trolls who ruin any good discussion on purpose. Then there are paid hacks who wage disinformation campagns like AGW and tobacco denialists (which, it turns out are the same people for the most part). Then there’s networks like FOX, where political viewpoint is a prime consideration of anything they air.

No wonder. Journalism has gone down the rabbit hole, parallel to the decline of Wall Street. It’s a jungle out there, and all the animals are looking for food or sex or both. Journalism is no different.

Reader beware.

Posted by westcoastwatcher | Report as abusive

In my opinion journalists interviewing other journalists is not news. It is filler. Time filler. T.V. News is a type of entertainment which requires 24-7 content. Hence the need for fill.
Talk radio does well because it recognizes it is a form of entertainment. It is very funny in our politicall correct T.V. News world.
I was taught long ago to question the authority of the messenger and to keep in mind the messengers stated bias and who gives the messenger their paycheck. Journalists do not do any of this anymore. Our free press, so essential to our political system is not free and unbiased. Journalist have tingles….
Our political system is what makes us Americans. It binds us as U.S. citizens. When our press fails us and when voters do not understand our political process we are in grave danger. The voter then becomes just a part of another group with their hands out in exchange for a vote. Self interest becomes short term interest and U.S. interests are lost. We no longer understand the process and it is like politics today, me;me;me. Long term selfishness requires the facts and responsibility.
Personal responsibility, as a citizen, as a reporter is treated as something out of the 50′s. Health care becomes a right and no one asks the cost.

Posted by Lenora Mobley | Report as abusive

Well Dean, it seems you’ve got some responses to your query. I would like to hear your (and Reuters) response to some of the issues brought up here. I challenge you to publish some of the comments here and respond publically. That would be a good follow-up article to show us you are serious about exposing bias in the media…

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

Consumers of news need to do their due diligence.
a) Find out who the reporter is, what are the opinions expressed in the past. After all reporters are people too.

b) If any “expert” opinion is quoted or referred to in the article, who is that expert: is he qualified to be considered an expert on the subject matter at hand.

Given the internet, it is very easy to follow the above formula. It is amazing how fast propaganda is separated from real news.

Posted by meteor | Report as abusive

I want to thank the community for a lively and civil discussion. As Sean’s comment pointed out, we’ve certainly had a number of responses, which seem to me to fall into a few categories:
–Those who think that news organisations in general–or Reuters journalists in particular–are so hopelessly biased that we can never, ever gain your trust and you’re turning to alternative forms of media. I can only ask that you judge us by our actions and what we produce– and think a bit about what the world would be like with no “mainstream” media to do the everyday reporting that fuels debate in alternative media.
–Those who think we’re trying to be fair, inclusive and unbiased but sometimes suffer lapses. We don’t always succeed in this objective, but I’m in this role to make sure our journalists know and follow the guidelines in our Handbook of Journalism and provide a clear, undistorted picture of the world. Many other news organisations, too, have ombudsmen or reader representatives who help promote high standards in reporting and editing.
–Those who think Reuters and other news organisations are just not very good at the basics of our job. Sadly, sometimes we do make errors–of commission and omission. Still, we correct errors quickly and prominently and we’re always adjusting our coverage tactics and strategies to meet the needs of a changing world. As an editor with 36 years in this business, I’ve never been more impressed with the quality of the men and women producing journalism.
–Those who think news organisations are doing a pretty good job at telling the world’s story, but could do better. I’m in this group, though some days it seems like we have a long, long way to go to prove ourselves. Thanks for your confidence, but as I said in my original piece, it’s vital that we be as transparent as possible about the guidelines we live by and how we do our jobs. That way, it’s more clear when we fall short.
I’ll be returning often in my For the Record column to the issue of trust and I look forward to engaging and lively discussions.

Posted by Dean Wright | Report as abusive

The decline of print media has been blamed on the internet. Another plausible hypothesis is the business goal of market expansion via eighth grade reading level and political goals allowing for the ‘foxification’ of news. US Democracy nolonger lives on a healthy stream of factual data for public decision making. No wonder no one reads papers or treats the president with respect. I say shame on the “Great Generation” for raising the degenerate boomers. I think “baby-bloopers” is more appropriate.

OK then Reuters – rise to your own challenge of objective news and do a series of investigative stories on how Reuters spewed propaganda during the Iraq war.

Jon Krakauer has just blasted the US propaganda machine with a book about Tillman with references to the Jessica Lynch propaganda stupidity. It came about 7 years too late, but something is better than nothing.

If is safe now for Krakauer to do it, so can Reuters – though I wish you journalists weren’t all so cowardly.

Rise to your own challenge of objective news and do a series of investigative stories on how Reuters spewed propaganda during the Iraq war.

It will be fascinating to see how, despite a “Handbook” the content of a news organization can be controlled and manipulated by Government and Business.

It is time for apologies.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Dean,

You are a brave soul for bringing this up. Talk show radio hosts admittedly have biases. Reporters, however should be above this. There is a fundamental flaw in all of this. Major metropolitan areas are countries unto themselves, while the smaller towns and communities are not areas where reporters congregate. You have become elitists to those of us in the boonies.

While you believe, with some credible authority I might add, that a rifle in the hands of an untrained twelve-year old with a .22 caliber rifle in New York City is a bad idea – and the generalized to the other 49 states; I applaud a younster with that rifle for the rabbit meat that he provides his grandmother in Williston, North Dakota.

While you believe that all the federal government should be concentrated in one geographical location – also a large metropolitan area, many believe those congressmen (politically correct and proper protocol for both sexes) should be required to stay in their districts and use current technology to interact while feeling the daily pressure from their constituents. This makes for more expensive reporting and lobbying.

Reporters are out of touch so much with middle America that they don’t even understand that they are out of touch. The Tea Partyers and other perceived radical extremists are the result of years of common sense being trodden upon by the urban patricians. So, the next time you go through Columbia, SC, stop for breakfast at Lizard’s Thicket rather than the Hilton.

Personally, I don’t find many reporters whose biases don’t ooze from the pen like a vile slime that conceals even the most obvious fact. But, then again, that’s probably my bias!

Other than that, most of you guys do a great job. Just call an ace an ace without fear of retribution for political correctness. Remember, most accountants know how to show the facts any way you want to see them. It is up to the astute analyst to determine the most truthful and relevant – unless your boss doesn’t like it.

Come to think of it, you have an impossible job! I’m going for coffee – come along and we’ll talk sports.

Posted by Brigham 007 | Report as abusive

How about more editorializing and opinion? Seriously. Just shift all the line reporters to commentary, and dispense with news altogether. Because the opinions are so productive and valuable.

Posted by DM | Report as abusive

Dean,

Thank you for this ande I hope Reuters will take the findings of this research seriously. The Pew research was probably done nationally, but it should be noted that in parts of the center of the country where I live I would assure you that the media is held in even lower regard; no that I know would say that the national media is unbiased. When Saturday Night Live joked on multiple occaisions about the media being in the tank for Obama did it never become a subject of serious concern in editorial boardrooms? It was funny because it was just the big inside joke of all the smart people, an in-your-face poke at conservatives. But we know the really is hardly different from the parody, and for that reason we mostly just ignore the msm now. You can recover our respect but it will mean making an honest effort at balance and abandon the trivial. The big joke around our house when we turn on the TV news or pick up a paper is for someone to say “I wonder if Michael Jackson is still dead.”

Posted by Jack L Graves | Report as abusive

OK so lets do a little experiment of our own on reporting a story:
Dean you just made a comment on the results so far of this question. You chose to represent the results in a certain way by breaking them down into 4 general categories you defined and responding in short to each, also pointing out where you sit personally.

Now that’s one way to present results, however after reading and analyzing the last 100 posts myself I found:

- 96% of bloggers strongly agreed there was a serious problem with accuracy, bais or corruption in the media.

- 1 person in 100 (harold trout) thought there were no such problems.

- 3 people spoke off topic and did not address the article.

Now of those 96% the VAST majority were VERY strongly opposed to the current state of the media so much so that most of them took the time and effort to write and articulate very lengthy arguments as to why we should not trust corporate media.

I think I was maybe asking a different question than you dean, but do you think the one i’m asking is more important, or just more dangerous?
Can anyone explain the difference between my results and deans??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Dean Wright writes: “As an editor with 36 years in this business, I’ve never been more impressed with the quality of the men and women producing journalism.”

There’s the problem, Dean Wright. In therapy, it’s called ‘denial.’ You and other members of your profession seem to bathe in it daily.

Tell you what: next time you look out your window and see a mob of tea-baggers stomping around in the street, go back into your office and read ‘Glenn Beck’s Common Sense.’ Soon as you get through laughing at Glenn Beck and the idiocy of his followers, recall that the press was once known as ‘the schoolmaster of the people.’ Then explain to yourself again why it is that you think journalism is doing a good job for American democracy.

The state of this nation should be the shame of newsmen everywhere.

Posted by Deacon Solomon | Report as abusive

If journalism is to strive for an unbiased, objective telling of events, it will first have to start from the precondition that there is a Truth to be told. Unless the journalist believes in the fundamental philosophical principle that Truth Exists, then there can be no objectivity in his journalism.

The problem with journalism today is that the philosophically untenable principle of relativism has become the fundamental paradigm and perspective of journalists. Unfortunately, this reduces Truth to a series of competing, subjective perspectives. When everyone is always “correct,” then someone will always be offended that they are being lied to.

Thus, journalism’s bias becomes most apparent when articles are written that attempt to provide equal footing to perspectives that are contrary to Truth. Consider how words like “progressive,” “right,” and “pro-choice” are used in the journalism. These words are often used in a way that is directly contrary to basic foundational Truth.

Mainstream journalism has taken the proper notion of presenting various perspectives on amoral issues and perverted it. Now issues that touch on the very nature of Truth itself are bandied about without resolution. Tocqueville has correctly identified that democratization tends to degrade the intellectual class and cheapen philosophy. In other words, today we are all journalists, but we no longer know what is True.

Posted by Gary | Report as abusive

I suspect most journalists think they report the truth for the most part. Where they fail, in my opinion, is in intellectual honesty, having been bombarded themselves in college and within their own cocoons with all kinds of false indoctrinations that end up coloring their perspective on everything. They need to get over the persistent intellectual laziness of assuming their notions of the world are correct, and start really questioning everything. Journalists often write or say the most ridiculous things, seemingly oblivious to their own ignorance.

Posted by Eric Peckham | Report as abusive

For all the talk of transparent media the (lack of) coverage on the current police state tactics taking place in Pittsburgh right now are going remarkably unnoticed. It’s the first time LRAD’s have been used on the American people under a law that prohibits them from assembling or protesting (with out a permit, they are not giving out permits). This is not news-worthy? The internet is ablaze with these goings-on and yet the major media centers remain pretty much silent on this, little blips about protesters causing violence but nothing of the thousands of police and military attacking these peaceful protesters.

That’s why people don;t trust mainstream media, it’s nothing but a pack of lies, omissions and half truths.

Posted by Orgizmo | Report as abusive

As this section will obviously not reach Mr. Swann’s record of 170+ VAT comments, I suppose it is time for rebuttal:

As I was standing shoulder high in the empty dam on the farm, not having rained for three years, over the past weekend, surrounded by many species with their own sounds, doing number one, two and even three everywhere they wanted to, many in various stages of labour, everybody out to get rid of my favourite animals, the jackal and the lynx, as they kill 5% of all livestock yearly, I thought to myself: this is beyond prayer.

When I came back to the City of Radioactivity and Cyanide, and reading the comments below, I thought to myself that I should rather have gone to the coast and read Animal Farm in the first place. What a circus.

Let’s then look at EQ if IQ is a sacred word and postulate it is an upside down/inverted IQ bell curve. That would place Forrest Gump on the far left side and JFK on the far right side. We seem to lack EQ.

Posted by Casper Lab | Report as abusive

Easy as this, stop printing so much crap, and people might actually give it a read.

Posted by moose | Report as abusive

Integrity is within, the problem is integrity does not get on the front page. Our society drives this train, words like: sex, explosive, mass, horror, tragic and celebrity do. Oh we get anew to jump on every now and then.

Stand back and look at this, what base truths about people could you possibly write.
This has become a world our standard for subjects, if you today’s article, the words might be rearranged, but it will still be there tomorrow.

Dominick
From WSOPNE.org

What used to be known as “reporter” is now referred to as “journalist”. Reporters used to be tasked with reporting on stories and writing about the “who” “what” “where” “when” and “why” of a newsworthy event. Today “journailsts” are dedicated to “changing the world” or “making a difference”. That isn’t reporting, that is tinkering, slanting, censoring or even attempting to MAKE the news.

If reporters do not know what their job responsibilities are, they should find a new line of employment. That the biases of our so-called journailsts of today is now so readily apparent, can there be any wonder why the profession is no longer trusted? Further, instead of such bias being rewarded with pink slips from editors, they are rewarded with Pulitzer Prizes – far too often for made-up, totally fabricated tales – that were falsely filed so some “journalist” could “make a difference”.

Posted by 4Deuce | Report as abusive

Do not underestimate the American people. We are resourceful and with a good dose of common sense. I deeply believe that we will come out of this Crisis, yes different, but better.

Posted by oscar canosa | Report as abusive

Why was debate killed by the moderators on this thread when it was extremely popular??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive