Time to be Ethical | #4

I know I touched on this before in a previous blog post, but I just wanted to go over something that has really made an impression on me during my internship.

Many people hold the view that journalistic standards are steadily declining. Newspapers face incentives to increase output at the expense of thorough editing and attach eye-catching headlines at the expense of pinpoint accuracy–all this, of course, to increase the number of clicks an article receives.

Heading into my internship at the Washington Examiner, I had a similarly pessimistic view about the state of media. But during my time here, I have been thoroughly impressed with how my commentary section approaches the issue of expedience vs. editorial principle.

On quite a few occasions, I’ve seen writers and editors squash story ideas because they lacked the necessary substance to warrant publishing. These stories would have made for interesting headlines and they certainly would have increased traffic to the website, but the standard for publishing was just not there.

In a humorous example, a notable congressional candidate commented that goldfish were in the reflecting pool of the National Mall. As the story was being prepped, the commentary editor searched for other parks in the area that had standing pools with fish in them. After a bit of googling, he did find a park near the National Mall that matched the description. So instead of running the story and getting the clicks, my editor gave the congressional candidate the benefit of the doubt. If more people in the media operated with this instinct, we would be a lot better off.

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