Friday, January 19, 2007

MercatorNet discusses the deterioration of The New York Times and takes the opportunity to explore the ethics of journalism.

New York Times veteran reporter John McCandish Phillips gives a particularly poignant talk to budding writers he calls "Media Ethics According to Deuteronomy". He recounts tales of the noble profession. "More than a few times I scooped other reporters in covering events, but there were occasions when my stories lacked fascinating content that showed up in other papers, usually in the highly competitive tabloids," Phillips recalls. "These were lacking in my stories on account of their failure to have occurred. You cannot top a liar."

He tells the aspiring journalists that he is asked most about "reportorial ethics." But what he tells them is surprising. "God gave us the core ethic in the words ‘You shall not bear false witness.’ Some reporters lamentably do just that, with facts, with quotations, with subtle or grievous shifts in emphasis…You will not lie. You will not distort. You will not make things up… If you get into investigative reporting, never let your suspicions run one-eighth of an inch ahead of your facts…

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