Rebuilding Journalistic Integrity | Michelle Reed

Let’s face it, journalism has taken a real hit in the past decade. The profession has become a laughingstock among the public. A once illustrious profession has begun to crumble and it needs to be rebuilt.

Brian Williams: NBC News anchor and, by accounts and admission, a fabricator of the news. Williams’ “mis-remembered” stories have been the butt of jokes, especially on late night talk shows.

Williams came back to anchoring for MSNBC September of 2015. He covered Pope Francis’ first U.S. visit. Some people were not very forgiving of his previous fabrications and took to social media to poke fun at Williams with the hashtag of #BrianWilliamsPopeStories.

Some still question why Williams felt the need to lie about his “adventures.” How did he think he wouldn’t be caught, especially telling the same stories on national television and risking someone knowing the truth?

Williams made the mistake of becoming the story and that’s not what journalists do. Journalists relate the story to the public in an unbiased, observational capacity. Seek truth and report it; that’s SPJ 101.

How are journalists to be tasked with being the watchdog of the government and public affairs if the public doesn’t believe even a quarter that’s being reported by those watchdogs? We’re losing our credibility.

How do we get it back? Simple: be honest. Tell the story; don’t be the story. Be accountable and transparent. If you make a mistake, own up to it and correct it. People are more appreciative and forgiving of that.