Did you know there is a Journalism Code of Ethics? Look up the Society for Professional Journalists, It says things like, “Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.” Have we seen that the last five years? I don’t think so. Journalists are also supposed to:
- Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible. (So why do we hear tapes such as the George Zimmerman 911 call being distorted?)
- Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it. (How was Sandra Fluke’s “testimony” allowed to look like official testimony when it was really a press conference?)
- Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others. (So all those anti-gun rants are them not imposing their values on others?)
- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context. (Uhm, the WHOLE Obama campaign and presidency!)
- Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. (Obamacare anyone?)
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity. (What about all those journalists getting jobs in the Obama administration?)
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. (Ugh, so many wimps…)
Webster’s Dictionary defines propaganda as:
- Ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.
- The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
- Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect
This past week 38 news sources signed a letter to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney protesting the fact that they are no longer allowed to photograph Obama doing “official” work (maybe because he never actually does any?). Only White House photographers can take pictures and they will then bless the news sources with the ones they want seen.
Organizations from ABC to Yahoo are not pleased. However, the letter they sent to Jay was more like a kid whining that their sister has a bigger piece of pie. Mom says, “No, she didn’t, just be quiet and eat it.” There is no teeth to the letter. They didn’t demand access or refuse to publish any more pictures, or even better, refuse to publish any more propaganda for Obama.
Oh, sure, they start out polite, “Hey, let’s meet and talk about this.” But so what? The majority of these “news” organizations have already let Obama get away with everything he wants. He’s behind doors laughing at them – who do they think they are and what are they going to do about it?
When he went after reporters and had them investigated and had their homes and computers searched, these news organizations made a little squeak. But they didn’t have the guts to do more. Their job nowadays is to continue to spread “Ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader.” When they finally should have been absolutely outraged, they were meek and mousy. They can’t even stand up for their own.
I find it hilarious when I hear things like, “Fox News lies!” then the same people who say that are SHOCKED when their taxes go up or their health care coverage gets cancelled. Why say Fox News lies, Rush is horrible, Glenn Beck is nuts, Sarah Palin is stupid? Because they have to participate in “allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause.”
Maybe before we can expect them to hold the President and his administration accountable for their actions, we must first hold journalists responsible for their actions. Every time they break one of their own codes of ethics, we need to call attention to it and remind them of their ethics, and in particular, which ones they are violating.
This is why bloggers and the internet are more important than ever, and why Obama says not to listen to us. Yes, we have opinions slanted one way or the other. But we don’t claim to be journalists with a phony set of ethics that we ignore. Liberal bloggers can write all the propaganda they want all day long and I don’t care.
Readers know that they are being given one side and if they want the other point of view they can search out the other side. They’re not claiming to be something they aren’t. But journalists are supposed to be better than this. Americans are realizing that they are only being fed one side and discouraged from seeking the other side (by calling the other side “stupid” or “liars”.) Journalists are supposed to hold the government accountable, not cover for them and promote their propaganda.
Are they outliving their usefulness and purpose? If they don’t get a backbone soon, they will be relegated to the history books along with the Pony Express, and bloggers will be the ones who are looked to for the truth.