Newspapers don’t tell the truth under many different, and occasionally innocent, scenarios. Mostly when they don’t know the truth. Or when they quote someone who does not know the truth.

And more and more, when they quote someone who is spinning the truth, shaping it to some preconceived version of a story that is supposed to be somehow better than the truth, omitting details that could be embarrassing.

And finally, when they quote someone who is flat-out lying. There is a lot of spinning and a lot of lying in our times—in politics, in government, in sports and everywhere. It’s gotten to a point where, if you are like me, you no longer believe the first version of anything. It wasn’t always that way.
Ben Bradlee

The former executive editor of the Washington Post died at 93 this week. I use the quote in my analysis “In News Reporting There Is No Truth, Just Perspective“, because what Ben says so superbly supports some of my argument.

Ebola Fear
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News Culture of Fear

Over on Google+ today, Chris Sewell posted as an image of a tweet from New York Times columnist Nick Bilton. Nine days ago I wrote about fear, not contagion, being the real threat Ebola poses. Nick’s point is scary itself. Happy Halloween to you, too.

For the supposedly freest country in the world, fear enslaves America, and the news media helps forge the chains. How stupid is that? In the past 12 hours, I have seen two people in my neighborhood wearing full-face masks—the fleshy colored material used to wrap up an injured knee. The masks covered from below chin to eyes. That’s the culture of fear. [Read more]

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In News Reporting There Is No Truth, Just Perspective

On Oct. 17, 2014, I received my membership card to the Society of Professional Journalists, which had been on my “maybe join” list for years. What flipped me forward: The organization’s Code of Ethics, which official revision released September 6. I had observed, but not participated in, the process to produce the new guidelines, which, while overreaching, are worthwhile.

However, while the changes contributed to my decision to join SPJ—being a journalist who blogs rather than a blogger—my ethical priorities differ somewhat from the new Code. My book Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers is all about ethics and how the Internet changes them. The tome makes trust, rather than truth, the news gatherer’s top ethical tenet. [Read more]

Abe App

In September, my wife and I received emails offering a year’s digital subscription to the Washington Post—that’s web and mobile devices—for $29. I signed up without hesitation and am now a regular reader.

As an editor and journalist, I am fascinated watching how the Post presents stories in the iPad app and on the web. The photo of Abe, from a superb story on selfies in Washington, is attention grabbing. The one above is from the app, but the web version below has the more compelling headline, which would move me to click over the other. [Read more]

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Newsroom and Masthead Matters

I normally pan top-10 lists, but this one sings, eh, zings: “10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register. Dek: “You’ll Read These And LOL Even Though They’re Serious”. Read `em and believe `em, if public relations is your fame and contacting Joe Wilcox is your game.

The Reg gives great guidance, and I needn’t really add to the list but will a tinsy-bit. I read and file most PR emails sent directly to me. I just likely won’t respond, or will forward the message to someone else on the team. So if you don’t hear from me, despair not. [Read more]