I wish I had seen Jay Rosen’s latest critique of “he said, she said” reporting before Saturday’s accuracy workshop at Georgetown University.
Jay provides an excellent example of reporting that is accurate but falls short of the journalistic principle of seeking the truth. That was a key point of the workshop: Yes, we taught about getting quotes accurate and verifying facts, but we stressed that accurate but incomplete or accurate but lacking context doesn’t fulfill the responsibility to seek, find and report the truth.
While I have called for updating some of the details in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, I love the direct, elegant wording of its first principle: Seek Truth and Report It. “He said, she said” reporting shrugs off this responsibility. In fact, it presents lies equally with the truth, which is hardly different from lying. (more…)