Truth, Impartiality and Integrity in News Reporting

Of all the strong pillars which support our society, that of news reporting may be among the most unusual as well as the most vital. How anyone even thought to carry out this vocation — of laboring to keep the common people informed of the events of our world — on a regular basis, seems remarkable. It is clearly a difficult, expensive, and much-maligned pursuit. And to maintain a news source of high integrity is today a challenge of the highest order.

When surveyed on which news organizations they most trusted, Americans — if you summarize the findings — were found recently to trust several veteran British mainstream sources even more than the highest-ranked ones of their own nation. These trusted British media included the BBC, The Guardian, and The Economist. This does not really say anything about the quality of American news organizations, but it does indicate our confusion and concern about truth. When in doubt, we want to hear from someone impartial, someone who isn’t likely to be directly benefiting from the results of the reports we hear. And in American society there is definitely a power shift going on, where some will benefit and some will lose. Many media organizations (like other businesses) are lining up on one side or the other — or at least they host news shows which lean strongly one way.

All this political division leaves us in doubt about the standards of the press that we’ve relied on all our lives. There are accusations flying this direction and that, that news reporters are not keeping to good standards of fact-checking and verifying. Sometimes the mere appearance of bias destroys news stories and muddies the public’s perception of an event.

What may be reassuring to many is that the news organizations we knew in the past are still there, many of them, still going full speed and in fact sometimes with greater efficiency. News reporters have greater sources than before and wider reach due to technology. When you hear of errors in the news, those errors seem more glaring and unforgivable because our appetite for news has grown — and we want it right the first time. The round-the-clock news cycle, or people reading news at all hours, means mistakes happen more quickly and reach more people before they’re corrected. This is an unfortunate byproduct of our news today.

But what is needed is a transparent and faithful news corps whose reporting standards are clearly stated to its audience. The public can give power to the press, so when a news organization rises above the fray and demonstrates its adherence to the truth and to impartiality, to plain speaking — that news outlet will earn the gratitude of the public.

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