Arthur W. Page, corporate communicator at AT&T years ago, consistently practiced the virtues of telling the truth and proving it with action. Now, where everybody has to know, or pretend to know, something about everything all the time, Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times observes that journalists' responsibility for reliable guidance toward truth is slipping.
Jim Spangler, chief communicator at Navistar, recalls from his journalism days in Chicago a City News Bureau dictum, much like the one I also got way back when I was political reporter for the Columbus (GA) Ledger: "Check it out. If your own mother tells you she loves you, check it out."
Reliable, checked and double-checked solid news reporting—the hallmark of professional journalism that Jim and I continue to advocate with other members of the Society of Professional Journalists—now struggles for attention in the 24/7 short-take online jungle.
In his opinion piece entitled "The Republican Horse Race Is Over, and Journalism Lost" (Business Day, NYTimes 5/9/16), Rutenberg (nom de plume "Mediator") cites political journalists' mistakes–driven by time toward short takes and mistakes–that "piled up as they played down Donald Trump's candidacy."
He laments: "Wrong, wrong, wrong–to the very end, we got it wrong."
Three lessons are reviewed—one hopes, learned or, dare we say, relearned–in the light of the reality of Donald Trump's success as Republican presidential candidate.
Rutenberg says the Times (and other) journalists erred by: