Opinion

The Great Debate

from For the Record:

Dim view of media? Try more transparency

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.

from For the Record:

A is for abattoir; Z is for ZULU: All in the Handbook of Journalism

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

The first entry is abattoir (not abbatoir); the last is ZULU (a term used by Western military forces to mean GMT).

In between are 2,211 additional entries in the A-to-Z general style guide, part of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism, which we are now making available online. Also included in the handbook are sections on standards and values; a guide to operations; a sports style guide and a section of specialised guidance on such issues as personal investments by journalists, dealing with threats and complaints and reporting information found on the internet.

from For the Record:

Citizen journalism, mainstream media and Iran

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

The recent election in Iran was one of the more dramatic stories this year, with powerful images of protests and street-fighting dominating television and online coverage.

Because traditional news organizations were essentially shut down by the authorities, it fell to citizen journalists -- many of whom were among the protesters -- to provide the images that the world would see, using such social media as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

from For the Record:

Counting quality — not characters — in social media

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

Are we too connected?

In recent days and weeks I’ve been wondering if our mobile phones, Blackberries, text messaging and constant access to email and social media have brought us too close together for our own good.

Or maybe the quality of our connected life is only as good as the information we share.

from For the Record:

Flu outbreak: Walking the line between hyping and helping

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

There’s nothing like a disease outbreak to highlight the value of the media in alerting and informing the public in the face of an emergency.

There’s also nothing like it to bring out some of our more excessive behavior, essentially shouting “Run for your lives! (but, whatever you do, stay tuned, keep reading the website and don't forget to buy the paper!).”

from For the Record:

These pirates shouldn’t be punchlines

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

Kidnapping isn't funny.

Neither are extortion, hijacking or murder threats.

So why have some in the media been laughing—or at least winking—at people who have been doing precisely that—the criminals who have been hijacking ships and crews off the Horn of Africa and holding them for ransom?

I think it has something to do with what we've chosen to call them: pirates.

Perhaps we in the media have all seen too many cartoonish films with Johnny Depp portraying the charming and engaging Jack Sparrow. Or maybe we remember an earlier era when Errol Flynn played a charming and engaging Geoffrey Thorpe who fights for commerce and his country (England) and the affections of a Spanish princess.

from For the Record:

Watching our language: Writing about the financial crisis

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

The global financial crisis may have drained the coffers of investors, businesses and nations, but it’s making our language a bit richer as we discover, revive, coin and develop words and phrases to help make sense of it all.

Some take hold quickly and spread far and wide. “Bailout,” naturally, was voted Word of the Year for 2008 by the American Dialect Society and by Merriam-Webster and was No. 2 on Time’s “Top 10 Buzzwords” (a list that also included “staycation,” a frugal vacation spent close to home). Interestingly—and predictively, as it turned out—the dialect society’s 2007 Word of the Year was “subprime.”

from For the Record:

Oscar special: Journalists on film

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

It’s Oscar time, and I’m again reminded of the debt Hollywood and journalists owe each other. Journalists supply Hollywood with great stories and Hollywood sometimes makes us look cool—or at least worth a couple of hours of time and the price of a ticket.

Put aside the fact that a number of Hollywood movies literally are made from the pages of journalism --“Saturday Night Fever,” “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Adaptation,” to name only a few, were all based on magazine stories. We journalists are also the very characters that Hollywood screenwriters sometimes love.

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