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Monday, October 08, 2007

Good News Isn't News, Bad News Is Bad News and No News Is Good News: UPDATED with Wright's Response

[Update below with Robin Wright's [Wapo] response to my email from her contact form which is linked below]

The new rules of Journalism, admitted by Robin Wright from Wapo and Barbara Starr from CNN to Howard Kurtz. (Video below)

I am SO glad we now know those new rules and how Wapo and CNN determine what is and what is not appropriate to tell American viewers. (Although we already knew that CNN much prefers to report things that they have, admittedly, obtained from terrorist)

Huge hat tip to NewsBusters.

Increasing casualties: news. Declining casualties: not news.

From NewsBusters:

To Kurtz's obvious frustration, his guests - Robin Wright of the Washington Post and Barbara Starr of CNN - both supported the press burying this extremely positive announcement.


Alas, not seeing the stupidity in this position, Starr, with a straight-face nonetheless, agreed with Wright:

But that's the problem, we don't know whether it is a trend about specifically the decline in the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq. This is not enduring progress. This is a very positive step on that potential road to progress.

Hmmm. So, I guess a "very positive step on that potential road to progress" isn't newsworthy, huh Barbara? Even Kurtz recognized the hypocrisy here, which led to the following:

KURTZ: But let's say that the figures had shown that casualties were going up for U.S. soldiers and going up for Iraqi civilians. I think that would have made some front pages.

STARR: Oh, I think inevitably it would have. I mean, that's certainly -- that, by any definition, is news. Look, nobody more than a Pentagon correspondent would like to stop reporting the number of deaths, interviewing grieving families, talking to soldiers who have lost their arms and their legs in the war. But, is this really enduring progress?

We've had five years of the Pentagon telling us there is progress, there is progress. Forgive me for being skeptical, I need to see a little bit more than one month before I get too excited about all of this.

Hmmm. So, a shocking increase in deaths would have "certainly" been newsworthy. However, for a decrease to be reported, skeptical journalists have to be more convinced that it's a lasting improvement.

Go read the rest of the transcript over at NewsBusters.


This leads us to the next, logical question which is: What is the reason that the good news from Iraq isn't being told to the American people, and is, in fact, deliberately being hidden from the American people?

The Jawa Report shows one possible reason:

So only report the enemy's news, and not ours. It's not like we need to have a more complete and balanced picture of what's going on in Iraq, is it MSM? Gotta get those anti-war Democrats into the White House, after all!

Kudos to Kurtz for asking the questions and showing the reports of the progress in Iraq.

Back to NewsBusters:

And when folks like this make dissemination decisions to not share information on something as important as American casualties of war due to their own personal skepticism, they have indeed abdicated their solemn responsibility to the public whose interest they regularly claim to serve.

Anyone still idiotic enough to try to deny liberal media bias now, from Wapo and CNN?

It seems Robin Wright from Washington Post and Barbara Starr from CNN, both need a refresher course on Journalistic Ethics:


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.

Seek Truth and Report It

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
Never plagiarize.
Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

Minimize Harm

Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable

Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:

Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of
writers, editors and other news professionals. The present version of
the code was adopted by the 1996 SPJ National Convention, after months
of study and debate among the Society's members.

Sigma Delta Chi's first Code of Ethics was borrowed from the
American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1926. In 1973, Sigma Delta Chi
wrote its own code, which was revised in 1984, 1987 and 1996.

If you would like to email Robin Wright from Washington Post a copy of these Journalistic Ethics, here is her email contact form.

Feel free to send CNN an email so also with a copy of the Code of Ethics they are obviously ignoring using this contact form page.

Perhaps mention to them that we would like all the news, not just the news they wish to cherry pick and that we do not appreciate them deliberately hiding the good news from Iraq.


[Update] I used those contact forms above and emailed CNN and Robin Wright from Wapo, letting them know that we, as Americans, would like to hear ALL the news coming from Iraq, not just the bad and not just the trends and CNN has not responded yet, but Ms. Wright did.

Robin Wright's response:

Ms. Duclos -
Thanks for your comments. The point I was trying to make on CNN is that two months do not make a permanent trend. As Gen. Odierno said last week, when he came to the Post, the numbers have been good the last couple of months but the US military has not yet reached the point of "irreversible momentum." When they do, it will certainly mean a different kind of reporting about the war in general. Unfortunately, all it will take is one or two really bad incidents and the numbers will start going up again. The numbers aren't the whole story either. The progress in Anbar has been widely covered in the US media -- and that in many ways tells us far more about both the war and the future than the death tolls.
I also think we're all a little nervous about declaring victories before we're fully confident that they represent a long-term and enduring trend and are not just a favorable blip on the screen.
With regards,
Robin Wright

Diplomatic Correspondent
The Washington Post
Telephone: 202 334-7443
Fax: 202 496-3883

Now, I never mentioned "victory" in my original email to her, via her contact form", yet her claim that before she can report "differently" [good news from Iraq] depends on them reaching of "irreversible momentum" show her incredible bias as well as her complete ignorance of the Codes of Ethics journalists are supposed to use as their guidelines.

This is what is called reporting now folks.... is it any wonder that the new media is often getting the "scoops" on the dinosaur media?

My response to her email:

No one asked you to report a "trend" Ms. Wright, just a complete picture of the news. Good news IS news to Americans and as a journalist, your job is to bring us ALL the news and you have failed to do that because you are waiting for a irreversible "trend"?

That is disgusting and I will be posting this on MY blog, 6 others I contribute too as well as that "excuse" you just emailed me.

Americans expect better from our reporters and you have failed us miserably on this issue.

Have a nice day,

Susan Duclos
What are you folks waiting for... weigh in using her contact form and let her know whether waiting for the "irreversible momentum" is a good excuse for hiding the good news coming from Iraq, from you!

[Update] Is it any wonder we are distrustful of the media today? Gallup.

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans in America today remain deeply distrustful of the national news media -- in sharp contrast to Democrats, who have a great deal more trust in the media's accuracy. Overall, less than half of Americans, regardless of partisanship, have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in the mass media. Nearly half of Americans -- including over three-quarters of Republicans -- perceive the media as too liberal while fewer than one in five say the media are too conservative. Americans are less likely to perceive bias in their local news media than in the national news media.

[Update] Reader Courtney also sent Ms. Wright her feelings on the subject:

Courtney emailed me Robin Wright's response and I do not need to show it here because it is the same response I received... as well as her misrepresentation that reporting good news from Iraq would be reporting some sort of "victory".

Tracked back by:
CNN wins “Most Negative Reporting of Good News in from Bottom Line Up Front...

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