Reply to “Comment on What is wrong with CNN” by A. E. Licht [Am. J. Zoll Phys. Lett. 62, 91, 2004]”
Mr. Licht said that he used the analogy to make it clear that CNN did not mean it was less committed to truth. This wasn’t to change anything but to assure people we wouldn’t give up on being truth tellers. “The change is we will not do Trump 24/7 or let him dictate our agenda.”
What Do News Editors Tell Us About the News? A Comment on Jones’s Anarchy in the News Media Landscape, and Why Newsroom Editors Shouldn’t Forget Objectivity
In terms of morale, let me just say, you work at a world-renowned news organization alongside the best journalists on the globe. Your jobs have meaning to you. Your job can have an impact. You are a part of something bigger than yourself. And nothing about that has changed. You have in me a leader who has done many of your jobs and someone who will always be there for you. My loyalty is first and foremost to this organization and journalism, no matter what else is said or done by anyone else.
A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. The daily digest chronicles the evolving media landscape here.
In a guest essay last week for The Post, Downie made the case that newsrooms must set aside journalistic objectivity because a new generation of journalists “believe that pursuing objectivity can lead to false balance or misleading ‘both-sides-ism.’” He added, “they feel it negates many of their own identities, life experiences and cultural contexts, keeping them from pursuing truth in their work.” It’s true that he never upheld objectivity, even though the principles he pursued as editor were the same as those of most objective journalists.
On Wednesday, Gallup and the Knight Foundation released their annual report surveying Americans for insights into how they view the press — and the results were grim.
26% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the news media, the lowest level recorded by the organizations over the last five years.
Meanwhile, Americans are having more difficulty than ever determining what to believe. 61% of respondents said the increase in information across the media landscape has made it harder to sort bad information from good.
It’s not surprising at all, but it’s alarming. The media landscape has fractured and it’s not uncommon to now see the same story presented in entirely different ways to different audiences.
Our shared reality has given way to algorithmically rendered realities. Some of the most popular figures in the country cause a lot of damage to the information landscape. Many businesses profit from propaganda that makes their audience’s views known and those that attack the press in bad ways.
Jones said you couldn’t sacrifice the truth. Sometimes the truth is not pretty. Sometimes the truth might be critical of this group or that group. Rather than trying to keep a scorecard of, well, we had X number of perspectives in this party, and X number of perspectives in this party — it’s gotten a little bit more nuanced than that.”
Jones is correct. The truth is not pretty. The truth can be offensive. The truth will offend members of one party more than the other. One party tells lies and promotes misinformation at a higher rate than the other, which is sad because it shows that one party is operating in an entirely different media environment.