Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Media Credibility-Repair Plan

An open letter to Reuters and the Associated Press:

With your credibility taking a hit over faked and staged photos, consider this credibility builder.

For the next Hezbollah* media event, send two extra film teams. The first team looks and acts like an ordinary film crew, but wear hidden cameras and microphones and focus on the hosts. The second team hides out at a distance, scanning walkie-talkie channels, using zoom lenses and directional microphones.

Then take all the raw footage, transcribe it into English, put it together into a single time sequence, and publish it with your stories.

I realize that journalistic ethics instruct you to "Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public." It's pretty clear "traditional open methods" have failed. What is and isn't staged is "vital to the public."

You owe it to your own reputation to bring us this kind of reporting. To help your readers separate fact from propaganda.

Maybe today's cease-fire renders my idea moot, but somehow I don't think so. We'll see.

* Hezbollah, Hamas, or any such media event.


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