Monday, September 16, 2013

Silence is not the Cure for Mistakes

Jordan Simmons

Silence is not the Cure for Mistakes

When news organizations make mistakes the results can damage the entire industry.  Every bit of trust earned by the public can be gone in seconds if journalists do not handle their mistakes appropriately. 

Fearing further prosecution by the public, many industries choose silence when a mistake is made, which leaves problems unsolved and creates a breach of trust.  Journalists demand the truth and in turn need to execute their greatest efforts to speak the truth and be transparent.  News industries must deal with the issues of plagiarism, fabrication and ethical misdeeds in order to maintain a relationship with the public, rather than doing nothing at all.

There is a need for a new set of ethical codes, harsher editors who ask more questions and possibly a download of the latest plagiarism software.  Editors can do random checks on sources to validate quotes of his or her reporters, especially the “young,” new-age journalists.  Today, the newsroom is more competitive than ever, and there are reporters who are willing to veer from the rules to win the best story.  The more pressure that is put on journalists, the more the industry enables them to cut corners, and this is where news goes wrong.  A widespread set of what is acceptable and what is not needs to be established.

Ethical codes are important because it is how we veer from the “bad” and create “good” messages.  Ethics have a lot to do with just generally being a good person.  If we have good people in our newsrooms and good management, then we should see fewer people plagiarizing and lying about quotes.  It is up to the news industry to produce content that is honest and transparent.  Journalists must stick to the facts and provide counter arguments in their stories. 

When editors hire reporters, they must get to the core of that person’s intentions.  As a journalist we have a responsibility to convey the truth, and it is imperative to have a team of ethically and morally-guided people.  This is a profession that really requires a certain type of person, and if one is caught plagiarizing or lying to the public, the resolution of silence may not be the best option.

The public wants to know why they cannot trust some news industries, and if they choose the route of silence a breach of communication is established.  We have to avoid the downward spiral of these types of results by devising a plan for recovery.

Whether it be the editors establishing random checks on sources, doing random checks on the people he or she has working for him or devising a new set of ethical guidelines, something must be done.  With the media growing faster than ever, the duties and responsibilities of journalists are growing just as fast.  It is easier than ever to find outside sources of information and the media can fix their problems before it is too late.  

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