"Fake news" and how to stop it

“Fake news” and how to stop it

By Dylan M. McLemore, University of Central Arkansas, @voiceofD After the dust from our toxic post-election discourse settled, the talk of traditional and social media turned to “fake news” – a term that has taken on new meaning in recent years, and new prominence in the 2016 presidential race. In this iteration, fake news doesn’t refer […]

Ethical editing

Ethical editing

It was only eight seconds. Eight seconds of silence between a question and answer. But it didn’t actually happen that way. And now, the decision to insert an 8-second pause in a documentary about a controversial subject has become a controversy of its own. The director of the documentary film Under the Gun says she made a “creative decision” […]

What makes people trust the news?

What makes people trust the news?

You already know that Americans have little confidence in what they see, hear or read in the news media. Last year, according to Gallup, trust in media set a new low with just 7% saying they have a great deal of confidence in the news. What’s to be done? A new study offers some clues. The Media Insight Project asked […]

NBC's Brian Williams decision: Not good enough

NBC’s Brian Williams decision: Not good enough

It was an ego trip. That’s the explanation Brian Williams offered in a Today Show interview the morning after NBC News officially demoted him from Nightly News anchor and allowed him to return to the network after a four-month suspension. “I told stories that were not true,” he said.  “I own this.” Precisely what he’s owning up […]

Why ABC should discipline George Stephanopoulos

Why ABC should discipline George Stephanopoulos

In what universe is it OK for a prominent journalist to make large contributions to a politically-connected foundation? In the universe of ABC News, apparently. ABC’s main anchor, George Stephanopoulos, has acknowledged that he gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation over the past three years. He didn’t tell his bosses, and he never mentioned it on the air, […]

Why NBC News had to suspend Brian Williams

Why NBC News had to suspend Brian Williams

It only took a week. It must have felt much longer to Brian Williams. The network suspended its main news anchor last night, saying his actions were inexcusable. Taking him off air for six months without pay, said NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke, was a “severe and appropriate punishment” for having “jeopardized the trust millions of […]

Screw-ups of the year

Screw-ups of the year

A television station runs a photo of the mayor and wrongly states she’s flashing a gang sign. TV reporters share photos of themselves on social media appearing to make light of serious stories. Two Chicago stations can’t get the facts right on a jail sentence. What a year for journalism ethics. Ironic, don’t you think, that […]

When to use hidden cameras

When to use hidden cameras

The video is black-and-white and grainy, but it makes the case. A manager at a company selling what it claims is health insurance instructs employees on what to tell prospects on the phone: “Tell them any f—ing thing,” he says. Reporter Jeremy Finley’s story for WSMV-TV in Nashville about United Benefits of America eventually put the company out of […]

Should a journalist ever be a paid spokesman?

Should a journalist ever be a paid spokesman?

In the movie Broadcast News, a network producer accuses a reporter of crossing the line between journalism and entertainment. His reply: “It’s hard not to cross it; they keep moving the little sucker, don’t they?” They sure do. The line between news and advertising has been blurring for years. Infomercials, advertorials, “native” ads online. Now, […]

Cable news hosts behaving badly

Cable news hosts behaving badly

What exactly is MSNBC thinking? The way the cable news network has treated two of its hosts lately makes you wonder if the suits are thinking at all. Both Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin got themselves in hot water for making offensive remarks. But the network suspended only one of them–the one whose comments were […]

More errors in breaking news

More errors in breaking news

Another breaking news story, another list of news media mistakes. Same old, same old, right? Except this time, a new question came up: Are breaking news mistakes even worth covering anymore? That question raised by Politico media columnist Dylan Byers came on a day when multiple news organizations got the facts wrong about the shooting […]

Making corrections on social media

Making corrections on social media

When you get something wrong in a news story, how do you make it right? Newsroom policies–if they even exist–usually cover the timing and placement of corrections in legacy media and online, but social media are rarely mentioned. That’s a big oversight, considering that errors on social media replicate like rabbits. Imagine you’ve tweeted something […]