Breaking News: Do We Trust It?

When I friend sent me a link to this youtube video, I watched and I laughed. I thought the satire about Breaking News: Do We Trust It was right-on. Please watch (be aware that the language is a little “colorful”).

Did you laugh? Why?

Upon reflection, I found my reaction to this video to be disturbing. I felt the satire hit really close to the truth.

Is it News or Reality TV?

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered, are we devaluing news? Or are we over-valuing it? Do we, as television viewers, believe the news as much as we believe reality shows? Or has news become more about the 30 seconds of video and a sound bite? Is it more about entertainment than reporting of events that will change your life?

Are the television news anchors who read the news on their prompters and do charitable events really reporters? Should they be held accountable for inaccuracies in the news they report? Or is that only the responsibility of the “on-location” reporter?

Do you trust the evening news? Are you skeptical? For me, my skepticism grows with the size of the event and the immediacy. And the more the ‘facts’ change, the less I believe. What do you think? Is it more important that reporters get the news of an event out right away, even if they report inaccuracies?

Do you watch the ‘morning news’ shows where anchors act like everyone on the set are great friends and seem to be having a chat with you? Is this taking the ‘cold’ medium of television reporting and turning it into something like the small town newspapers of old? Or is it simply filling-air time and making anchors into celebrities?

Is interviewing passers-by or neighbors for their opinions or reactions to an event, news you want to see? Or does that interview put things into perspective for you?

Journalism Code of Ethics

The ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalism can be found here. Basically, it says that reporters should be objective, honest, respectful, avoid harm, and avoid conflicts of interest. There are in fact many sites on the internet that list a code of ethics for reporters. Most of them are basically the same. One source that I’ve read, suggested that reporters should be independent, basically self-employed, in order to avoid those conflicts of interest. The anchors we see reporting the news on television are usually employees of the network or television station. Is that ethical?

I have met and know reporters I know to be ethical. Yet, I have seen things reported as news that are not honest, objective, or respectful. I am conflicted. And as a result of that, I don’t watch the news very often anymore. Do you?

I’d be pleased to have you share your opinions about televised news today. Perhaps you can enlighten me and resolve my indecision about breaking news: do you trust it.