Reporters. Their ethics and image have continually been challenged in the spot light of bad press. Often they’re thought to be ruthless. Biased. One-sided. Out to get you. Liars. Unfeeling. Low-lifes. Driven to brainwash society. Or they will do anything to get a story, and that quite literally means… anything.
Pretty much described as the spawns of corruption itself, news reporters have always fought the image of being untruthful or politically and socially biased in their stories. According to Tim Harrower author of Inside Reporting, “Whatever the reason, journalists are stuck with a negative image.”
A recent research study conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that believability ratings for major news organizations have substantially decreased over the years. “Since 2002, every news outlet’s believability rating has suffered a double-digit drop, except for local daily newspapers and local TV news,” the center said.
It’s unclear when the collective reputation and credibility of reporters started to go hand-in-hand with dirty politicians and the bottom feeders of society but for a young journalist this stereotype is a lot to go up against.
Given the history of examples of bad press, it’s not surprising to see why the reputation of the reporter has suffered. High profile journalists have helped tarnish the reporter’s image for the whole world to see. A few include:
- Stephen Glass, a former reporter at The New Republic, who, in 1998, “made up people, places and events… made up organizations and quotations. Sometimes, he made up entire articles” according to CBS News.
- Jayson Blair, a former reporter for the New York Times was caught in 2003 for plagiarizing and fabricating stories.
- Jack Kelley, a former reporter for USA Today, was once up for the Pulitzer Prize in 2002, but was later caught fabricating overseas stories.
Reporters are expected to live by basic principles of journalism that encourage honesty and accuracy. Editors make sure their reporters abide by these codes of ethics, in order to protect the already damaged reputation of a reporter. “Whatever the reason, journalists are stuck with a negative image – and raising our ethical standards may be the best way to change that,” wrote Harrower.