Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL, February 19, 2015
Raleigh, NC Correspondent-Journalists provide general public with a valuable service of reporting the news from their respective countries as well as from around the world. As such, most people come to rely on them as source of truthful information and analysis. Some of the journalists become well-known and loved personalities, as was and still is the case with Brian Williams. Brian Williams, a news anchor at NBC News, has become a fixture in many American homes due to his personality, excellent quality of reporting on major events within the U.S.A. and the world at large, and professionalism. He has won numerous awards for his work and was recognized as one of the best journalists in the United States.
However, the last few weeks have been trying for Brian Williams. He has been accused of embellishing his journalistic experiences: namely, in 2004 he claimed to be shot at while in the helicopter during reporting from Iraq; he said to have seen dead bodies swim by while staying at Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and being a witness to a suicide while reporting from there; he said that he was reporting during the fall of Berlin Wall while he came there after the Wall had fallen; and he said that he received memorabilia from Seal Team Six. All of these claims have been challenged by the witnesses. As a result of all these allegations, Brian Williams has been suspended from work for six months without a pay.
Nevertheless, many people think that the treatment of Brian Williams has been unnecessarily harsh. In fact, it has been reported that “NBC Nightly Views” has lost 700 K viewers after Brian Williams’ scandal. I happen to agree with them. It is a nature of journalistic reporting that one might exaggerate, embellish and put an extra effort to attract the attention of the public to the issue they are reporting about. If there are reports which are somewhat inflated, but in the end do not do any harm and instead make the public aware, why the hysteria? It must be politically motivated, and I think that the whole issue with Brian Williams comes to the next presidential elections. It is a well-known fact that NBC News is the outlet of liberal news and whiles our current Congress is ruled by Conservatives, all gloves are off. It is not going to be surprising that we will see more public attacks on well-known people who support Democrats in the near future because of upcoming Presidential elections.
While the journalists need to be as factually accurate as possible, some embellishments are allowed if they bring attention of the public to the issue. In our modern world, where people are ruled by their gadgets and have very small attention span, everything that makes them stop and think should be appreciated.
Asheville, NC Correspondent-For years, Americans trusted Brian Williams to be an honest voice of calm, dispassionate news analysis. Now, reports have begun to surface that Williams fabricated significant portions of his coverage from the war in Iraq. He claimed that he was in a helicopter that was hit by a grenade, when, in reality, his helicopter was safe and another was targeted by the attack. It’s tempting to see this fabrication as an isolated example, but, according to a recent ABC News article, embellishments in journalism are as common as journalists themselves. WIlliams may have been punished because of his publicity and the seriousness of his exaggeration, but nearly every journalist engages in this practice to some degree.
Part of this system of dishonesty has to do with partisanship, but a more significant factor is the economic environment of journalism. News does not exist because it serves a public need to know. News exists, increasingly, to sell advertising. Advertisers will only spend their dollars on the program that draws the highest ratings, which puts news companies in competition with each other for the edgiest headline, the flashiest presentation, and the most emotionally-loaded segments.
As long as news networks compete with each other for ratings, and as long as those ratings follow emotionally gripping stories, journalists will continue to make additions or omissions to stories to make them more gripping. As tempting as it is to blame journalists, we must acknowledge that some of the fault lies with the viewing public. They must place a higher priority on sound information than on entertainment, and vote with their attention for news networks which prioritize disseminating information to the public over flashy graphics and emotional storytelling.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Brian Williams was recently suspended from NBC news for false reporting (Dan Rather was also caught about 10 years ago). Can journalists be trusted to factually report the news; or has all news media become politically biased? How to combat this issue?
With the recent suspension of Brian Williams from NBC News, it is obvious that the biased and self- emulating standards of reporting by the mainstream media are unfolding before the public eye. The exposure of news media lies has finally come home to roost, as the general public has been made aware of the blatant skewing of the nightly news along with the misrepresentation and sensationalism that is injected into it on a regular basis.
Quasi journalists are in abundance in the news media realm, and today’s journalists are not held to the same standards that existed in years past, where a strict moral code of integrity was part of journalistic ethics. Journalists today are difficult to trust as they are allowed to use personal license and given free reign to either not report a story, ignore a story, under report a story, diminish a story’s importance, or fabricate their own version of the story simply because they know they can report what they want without serious consequences. In addition, news reports are flavored and biased with a particular political bent that aids and abets the political persuasion they support, follow, and impose upon those viewing their reports. Brian Williams reported in this same manner for years while emphasizing and inserting himself personally into the most serious and genuinely important stories of the day. Incidences of Brian’s pushing into the heart of a report were an apparent and regular occurrence in a number of instances, particularly with the repeated rendition concerning Iraqi fire to a military helicopter, as were his reports of water borne illness and flooding during hurricane Katrina. Many other fabricated stories have misled viewers who trusted his reporting.
Not all news media outlets are as politically biased as NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and the alphabet networks, as there are online news organizations and a few cable news networks that have reported in a fair, balanced and truthful manner. Other mainstream media outlets need to take a hard look at what successful news reporting garners for its journalists, viewers and listeners. Standards of truth and fairness reap viewer trust.
Reporting the news accurately is a moral obligation and in order to fulfill that requirement and to trust journalists to actually follow through with that commitment, whether through print, radio, or televised delivery, all journalists must be expected to adhere to and follow a professional code of ethics that professional journalism associations endorse. If that code is deviated from or ignored, the journalist should be suspended or expelled from the profession. This code appears to have been neglected with the current crop of mainstream media newscasters and journalists. To combat the issue and instill trust in reporting, the following factors must be part of ethical journalism. The pursuit of truth, accuracy, attribution of sources and evidence, fact checking, reporting on two sides of the issue, and straight reporting without political allegiances, and personal bias and prejudices must be re-instituted and become standard operating procedure within every newsroom in the country.