Are we too fast for our own good?

October 27, 2009

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

One thing I’ve tried to be consistent about in this column is the notion of transparency.

As I’ve written, at a time when trust is such an endangered commodity in the financial and media worlds, it’s important that news consumers see the guidelines our journalists follow. That’s why we made our Handbook of Journalism available free online.

But it’s also important to remember that handbooks don’t do journalism. Journalists do. And journalists are continually facing new challenges in a brutal economic climate with tough competition and a news cycle that is measured in seconds — or less.

So in the interests of transparency, I want to share with you a piece written by my colleague Sean Maguire, who is Reuters editor for political and general news. Recently, I introduced a panel discussion in London on journalism ethics, sponsored by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Sean, a panel participant, was questioned sharply about how Reuters handled a report on Sept. 11 about Coast Guard vessels supposedly involved in a gun battle on the Potomac River. Were we too quick to pick up a story quoting another news organization? Here’s what Sean had to say.

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