Opinion: Time for media to turn up the pressure, Potsdam resident says
Friday, December 28, 2018 - 2:54 pm

The Society of Professional Journalists in its Code of Ethics states “Seek truth and report it …journalists should take responsibility for the accuracy of their work.

Verify information before releasing it (1).” Dennis Jerz of Seton Hall University writes “Good journalists confirm details they didn’t Witness…Don’t repeat unconfirmed claims(2)”. The latter statement provides a real quandary for today’s media. We now have a president who, according to the Washington Post, has produced 6420 false or misleading claims since attaining office.

By continuing to report lies, even while publishing disclaimers – “….without evidence….not confirmed…”,etc. – the media becomes complicit in spreading those lies.

However, it is certainly appropriate to report on the president’s ignorance, e.g. his disbelief in human-caused climate change, because that sort of denial has catastrophic implications for our nation and planet.

How then can the media stay faithful to a code of ethics requiring truth in reporting when faced with a presidential environment that scorns the concept?

The answer is deceptively simple: The media has the responsibility to cover a story or news conference, but it does not have the obligation to report it when the information is false or misleading. This step has already been undertaken by some news outlets who have grown weary of such question-and-answer sessions being nothing more than a platform for unsubstantiated claims and spin.

It is time for all media to step up its pressure to ensure what is being published is correct and meaningful, and to deny the platform to those who are incapable of veracity.

Tim Schwob

Potsdam