Recommended Reading And A Couple Thoughts About That Effort To ‘Infiltrate’ The ‘Post’

If you haven’t already, please read this story:

Woman’s effort to infiltrate The Washington Post dated back months

Here’s the top:

“The failed effort by conservative activists to plant a false story about Senate candidate Roy Moore in The Washington Post was part of a months-long campaign to infiltrate The Post and other media outlets in Washington and New York, according to interviews, text messages and social media posts that have since been deleted.”

One thought that came to mind is how that effort to infiltrate so clearly violates one of the core principles that we and other credible news organizations live by. As our Ethics Handbook says:

“Journalism should be done in plain sight, and our standards are clear. When we are working, we identify ourselves as NPR journalists to those we interview and interact with. We do not conceal our identities, pose as someone or something we are not, use hidden microphones or cameras to collect information, or record phone calls without the permission of all parties on the line, except in the very rarest of circumstances”

What might qualify as a rare circumstance? Basically, if someone’s life is at stake. We explore the issue here.

The story also reminds us that we’re constantly being judged and, perhaps, tested.

Fortunately, we know how to conduct ourselves.

One of the first statements in the handbook is that “we hold those who serve and influence the public to a high standard when we report about their actions. We must ask no less of ourselves.” We go on to write about always remembering that “you represent NPR.” We remind everyone at several points to keep opinions about the issues of the day to ourselves, whether it’s when we’re out in public or when we’re posting on social media.

Someone may try to spin this note as a warning that “they’re coming after us.” That’s not what I’m saying. This is about being glad to work at a real news organization where journalists do their best to uphold important principles, and about pointing to the difference between us and “them.”

(“Memmos;” Nov. 30, 2017)

November 30, 2017

Comments are closed.