|CREDIBILITY IN QUESTION|
trust in the news media has been shaken by several recent scandals and
lapses of journalistic judgment. Two experts answer your questions about
specific cases of journalistic misdemeanors and how the news organizations
in general can improve their credibility.
Special Report: Credibility in Question
Kelly Hagans asks:
I know that the Fairness Doctrine would bring back some semblance of objectivity and equality in reporting. Could you speak to the probability the Fairness Doctrine becoming law and what impact it would have on the news? In addition, what do you think about the regulation of the media industry in terms of news organizations' ethical and professional conduct?
Jay Rosen responds:
Right now I see no prospect of the Fairness Doctrine coming back.
Regulation has been tending toward de-regulation for a long time, with the exception of obscenity, where it is now moving the other way. This is a direct result of elections won and lost, and the governing philosophy in charge of the country.
I doubt we will see regulation that attempts to impose ethical conduct on the news industry. It would probably violate the Constitution.
But we will see more politicized attacks on the news tribe, and attempts to intimidate.
Michael Getler responds:
I can't speak with any legal expertise about the Fairness Doctrine and the law.
But I'm opposed to doctrines, regulations, codes of conduct or whatever you want to call it for news organizations. I think individual news organizations should be independent, competitive, feisty, aggressive and live or die by their own journalistic standards. I never thought councils were a good thing or would work well.
Despite its flaws, American journalism is still the most reliable I know of and it has gotten that way by news organizations finding their own way. I think it's fine for journalistic associations, for example, to set out general concepts as guidelines, but I'm not for taking the next step and signing some group constitution.