That’s the headline of Walter Hussman’s piece in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. Impartiality certainly is a contributor, but the Critical Item for a newspaper’s credibility—for any journalistic entity—is integrity.
To set themselves on the path back to honesty, and so to believability—not just credibility—members of the journalism industry must address these items:
- identify at least some of their sources
- if an anonymous source refuses to be identified, show two things
-the source actually exists
-why the source should be believed
- if the anonymous source is a whistleblower, show that the source has exhausted all internal whistleblowing channels before deciding to leak
4. most importantly, journalism used to have a standard that required two on-the-record sources to corroborate the claims of anonymous sources. An editor-in-chief must address the following:
-why his news outlet has chosen to walk away from that standard of journalistic integrity
-explain the standard he currently uses in place of that one.
These questions have been asked before, and journalists continue studiously to duck them. Interestingly, Hussman, as publisher of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, is among those ducking the questions.
None of this does anything for newspapers’ or other journalistic outlets’ credibility. After all, merely impartial lying is still lying.