The days of true news reporting is long past. I wonder if we shall ever again see the likes of Richard Hubbell, Douglas Edwards, John Cameron Swayze, Edward R. Murrow, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and the outspoken Howard K. Smith.
The Society of Professional Journalists Preamble of the Code of Ethics, oh yes, believe it or not they do have one, states:
“Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.”
Their Code of Ethics consists of 5 sections, including the above Preamble, which when you see the titles of each section will at least get a chuckle out of you if not a full belly laugh. Those sections are titled as follows: Seek the Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently, and Be Accountable. If you are not laughing by now you just have no sense of humor in your soul. Now I grant you that each and every one of those icon reporters mentioned above on occasion managed to stumble and violate some, if not all, of these stated ethics. However, I think that in most instances of their long careers they managed to follow them quite well.
Now for my point in all of this! Specifically, the ongoing current event in Ferguson, Mo. Without recapping and rehashing all the reporting about this incident, I am going to ask you briefly read this so-called Code of Ethics, and then ask yourself the same thing I keep asking myself. “What the Hell?”