|CREDIBILITY IN QUESTION|
|Public trust in the news media has been shaken by several recent scandals and lapses of journalistic judgment. Two experts take your questions about specific cases of journalistic misdemeanors and how the news organizations in general can improve their credibility.|
In the past three years, journalism scandals at The New York Times, USA Today and CBS News' 60 Minutes have tarnished the media profession's image and trust in its capacity to act as the "fourth pillar" of democracy.
These three news organizations have taken specific measures to repair public confidence in their performance -- by hiring an ombudsmen, enhancing the dialogue with their audience and commissioning an independent panel to examine and improve newsroom policies.
Starting the new year, what steps should news outlets in general take to bolster trust in their ability to report fairly and thoroughly?
Professional ethics play a major role in ensuring that news organizations fulfill their responsibility to inform the public and to deliver news without bias.
Yet, new media technologies -- such as the Internet, Web-logs (blogs) and the 24-hour news cycle on cable -- can present challenges to traditional journalism ethics.
For instance, a rumor fueled by bloggers on the Internet can gain enough momentum to hit the evening broadcast news. Also, cable news channels can appear biased by filling their 24-hour schedules with political speculation and commentary.
What ethical standards should journalists strive to uphold? What constitutes a breach of these standards?
Unlike some other professions, journalists cannot be stripped of professional licenses if found to violate industry standards or ethics.
What rights do you have as a news consumer, and what is the best method to lodge a complaint about media coverage you perceive as poor or incomplete?
Michael Getler, ombudsman for The Washington Post and former executive editor for the International Herald Tribune, and Jay Rosen, chairman of New York University's journalism department and blogger of pressthink.org, answer your questions.