Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

After Summer of Media Illnesses, Credibility Ratings Might Be a Cure

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

After Summer of Media Illnesses, Credibility Ratings Might Be a Cure

Article excerpt

From over-reliance on anonymous sources, to phony characters

in columns, this has been a troubling summer for the news

media.

Something needs to be done to erase the blurry distinction

between tabloid and mainstream coverage.

So I have been thinking. We have ratings for movies and TV

shows. There are quality awards for business.

How about credibility ratings for news organizations?

What an opportunity for an independent media foundation,

something like the Pew Center or the Freedom Forum.

So here is my proposal for a 10-point test for determining the

credibility of a news source. (My comments on this newspaper are

in parentheses).

1. Are regular corrections printed in a consistent and

prominent place? Half-point for corrections that are difficult

to find. (Times-Union corrections are published on section

fronts. The mistakes often occurred on inside pages).

2. Is there an ethics code and is there evidence that it is

enforced? Are consumers told regularly of the existence of the

code and the contents of it? Half-point for ethics code that is

not publicized. (There is a Times-Union ethics code, but apart

from my column once a year, little effort is made to publicize

it.

3. Is opinion clearly labeled? Is advertising identified? An

extra half-point for a box every day that explains the

differences among news, opinion, editorials and advertising.

(The Times-Union, like most newspapers, needs improvement in this

area.)

4. Does the news outlet have a critic with the willingness and

independence to publicly reveal the outlet's mistakes? Extra

half-point for giving this person space or air time. (Only 35

U.S. newspapers have ombudsmen.)

5. Are letters from readers published or broadcast that are

critical of the organization? (Such letters are found in the

Times-Union.)

6. Are anonymous sources used only as a last resort? …

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