Objectivity and impartiality: newsroom policy

Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog, Jan 17, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There's a bit of a debate in the online news world that I think is long overdue: whether reporters should 'fact check' their sources. As the proposed wording states: "If someone misrepresents the facts, do not simply say someone else disagrees, make a statement along the lines of 'However, the actual wording of the report…' or 'The official statistics do not support her argument' or 'Research into X contradict this.' And of course, link to that evidence and keep a copy for yourself (which is where transparency comes in)." But of course this is controversial, with critics suggesting that this amounts to telling reporters to be "truth vigilantes." But as Matthew Ingram says, "media outlets that leave this kind of function to third parties risk losing the trust of their readers." Where do I stand on this? On the side of the truth. Where else? People in positions of trust - doctors, lawyers, journalists, teachers, scientists - have an obligation to correct errors of fact.
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