Saturday, October 18, 2008

Internal evaluation could be a starting point

Adam Riley’s column in The Phoenix talks about the presidential debates and journalists having conflict of interest. He points out while some scandals are recognized and discussed there are a few that miss the public eye. The recent on the list is the moderator of the vice-presidential debate - Gwen Ifill and her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. The reaction came after the debate and she was even spoofed by Queen Latifah on SNL.

Riley states, “the public gets a double message: we (the media) aren’t as hard on ourselves as we are on everybody else; and we don’t trust you (the public) to.”

I guess a having a bias towards a subject or story is one thing but a defined one-sidedness can affect the journalist' credibility. If there were a potential conflict of interest with the story, then a self-evaluation exam would help in avoiding future trouble. We need to ask ourselves:

Will my involvement with the subject affect my perception towards the story and will the viewer/reader's perception change if I decide to pursue the story?
If I support a certain organization or a candidate is it fair to report but show my inclination outside work?
Is it better to avoid a story having a potential conflict of interest?
Am I jeopardizing my company’s reputation?
Is it appropriate to report a story if there are personal beliefs (on religion and politics etc.) or relations with the subject?
Is it better to be open and transparent from the beginning about my involvement with the subject?

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