Journalism Standards in the Internet Age

Are the news media sacrificing ethics online?


Press critic A.J. Liebling of The New Yorker wrote in 1960 that “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” A half-century later, everyone with an Internet connection owns a virtual press. And many of them scorn the journalism standards that have guided America's mainstream media since before Liebling penned his famous aphorism. Among those standards: accuracy above all else, plus fairness, balance, thoroughness, independence, civility, decency, compassion and responsibility — along with a clear separation of news from opinion. Now, operators of some news-like websites unabashedly repeat rumors and throw accuracy to the wind. Vile, anonymous reader comments on mainstream media websites mock civility. Add the pressures of Internet speed and shrinking news staffs, and serious journalists wonder what kind ...

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