Newspaper Editors Focus on Credibility
Harper, Jennifer, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The White House sex-and-lies scandal has given the media a huge jolt. Only time will tell if it's an electrocution or a jump-start.
Today, some 750 newspaper editors from major dailies and small outposts alike arrive in town to contemplate their collective journalistic identity. The scandal is very much a part of it this year.
The American Society of Newspaper Editors will devote more than a day to scandal fallout.
In the past two months, newspapers have vied with 24-hour TV cable news, weekly magazines, talk radio and the Internet for a spot in a crowded marketplace. Anonymous sources and dubious leaks rated the same treatment as scrupulous reporting while huge gaffes warranted embarrassing retractions.
"Our most important topic is credibility this time around," said Ed Jones, managing editor of the Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg, Va., and the program chairman.
"This begins a major, four-year initiative on press credibility on our part," he added. "We're talking a lot of research and a lot of analysis."
Tomorrow's schedule, which begins with a "Credibility Breakfast," offers several variations on the theme.
ASNE President Sandra Rowe, who is also editor of the Oregonian in Portland, will tell members about "Leading the Way Out of the Credibility Crisis."
The midmorning "Credibility Conversation" offers motley voices, indeed. The two-hour session includes an ethicist, five editors, a Harvard law professor, a publisher, an ombudsman, CBS anchor Dan Rather, Republican Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma and Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
Things get really gutsy at lunch, though, when the featured topic is "Covering the Clinton Sex Allegations: What Kind of Job Have We Done? …