1. The use of unnamed sources in journalism is raising concerns about the credibility of the media.
2. Journalists feel a strong ethical responsibility to combat misinformation and fake news.
3. Newsrooms are downsizing, making it more challenging to fulfill the responsibility of vetting information.
4. Some media outlets are pushing back against damaging PR practices, such as sharing information “on background.”
5. Sharing information on background allows companies to change their story, avoid scrutiny, and even lie to reporters.
6. The Verge has updated its ethics policy to address concerns about sharing information on background.
7. Media relations experts explain the difference between “on background” and “off the record.”
8. The Associated Press has rules for anonymous sources, requiring the information to be vital, reliable, and from a source with direct knowledge.
9. Building strong relationships with reporters and being transparent can help build trust and credibility.
The Credibility Crisis in Journalism
In recent years, the public’s trust in the media has been declining. Edelman’s Trust Barometer reveals that trust in the media is low, while trust in business is higher. This credibility crisis poses a significant challenge for journalists who strive to provide accurate and reliable information to the public. The rise of fake news and misinformation has further eroded trust in the media, making it crucial for journalists to uphold ethical standards and combat these issues.
The Ethical Responsibility of Journalists
Journalists have a strong ethical responsibility to combat misinformation and fake news. They believe it is their duty to vet information, verify sources, and provide accurate and unbiased reporting. However, with newsrooms facing downsizing and budget cuts, fulfilling this responsibility has become increasingly challenging. Journalists are under pressure to produce more content in less time, which can compromise the thoroughness and accuracy of their reporting.
Challenges in Vetting Information
The downsizing of newsrooms has made it more difficult for journalists to vet information thoroughly. With limited resources and time constraints, journalists may rely on shortcuts or accept information without proper verification. This can lead to the dissemination of inaccurate or misleading information, further eroding trust in the media. Journalists must find ways to overcome these challenges and prioritize the accuracy and reliability of their reporting.
Pushing Back Against Damaging PR Practices
One damaging PR practice that undermines trust in the media is the sharing of information “on background.” This practice allows companies to control the narrative, change their story, and avoid scrutiny. The Verge, a prominent media outlet, has taken a stand against this practice by updating its ethics policy. The Verge’s policy clarifies that information shared on background cannot be assumed to be treated as such, challenging companies to be more transparent and accountable in their communications.
The Problem with Sharing Information “On Background”
Sharing information on background can have detrimental effects on the credibility of both the media and the source. It allows companies to manipulate the narrative, making it difficult for journalists to provide accurate and unbiased reporting. By sharing information on background, companies can change their story, avoid accountability, and even lie to reporters. This pattern of behavior erodes trust in the media and undermines the public’s confidence in the information they receive.
The Verge’s Updated Ethics Policy
The Verge’s updated ethics policy serves as a response to the concerns surrounding the sharing of information on background. The media outlet now explicitly states that PR professionals cannot assume that information shared on background will be treated as such. This policy change aims to hold companies accountable for their communications and encourages transparency in media relations. By challenging the status quo, The Verge is taking a proactive approach to rebuild trust and credibility in journalism.
Understanding “On Background” and “Off the Record”
It is essential to understand the difference between sharing information “on background” and “off the record.” When information is shared on background, reporters can use the information without directly quoting the source. However, this practice can backfire if there isn’t a strong relationship with the reporter or a clear reason for using it. On the other hand, sharing information off the record means that the information cannot be used in any form without the source’s explicit permission. Journalists must navigate these nuances carefully to maintain trust and credibility in their reporting.
The Associated Press’ Rules for Anonymous Sources
The Associated Press has established rules for the use of anonymous sources to ensure the reliability and credibility of the information. According to their guidelines, information from anonymous sources must be vital, reliable, and come from a source with direct knowledge. Journalists must exercise caution when relying on anonymous sources and ensure that the information meets these criteria. By adhering to these rules, journalists can maintain the integrity of their reporting and protect the public’s trust.
Building Trust and Credibility Through Transparency
In the digital media environment, transparency is crucial for building trust and credibility. PR professionals and others seeking to influence the media should prioritize transparency and be upfront with reporters. Building strong relationships based on trust and open communication can help ensure accurate and reliable reporting. Relying on tactics such as sharing information on background can damage relationships and the reputation of both parties involved. By embracing transparency, PR professionals and journalists can work together to combat misinformation and rebuild trust in the media.
The use of unnamed sources and the sharing of information “on background” in journalism raise concerns about the credibility of the media. Journalists have a strong ethical responsibility to combat misinformation and fake news, but downsizing newsrooms make it challenging to fulfill this responsibility. Some media outlets, such as The Verge, are pushing back against damaging PR practices and updating their ethics policies. Sharing information on background allows companies to control the narrative and avoid scrutiny, eroding trust in the media. Understanding the difference between “on background” and “off the record” is crucial for journalists and PR professionals. The Associated Press has established rules for anonymous sources to ensure the reliability and credibility of the information. Building trust and credibility in the media can be achieved through transparency and open communication. By prioritizing accuracy, reliability, and transparency, journalists and PR professionals can work together to combat misinformation and rebuild trust in the media.