Good Journalism

Jim Lehrer recently announced a change of name and some changes of format to what was previously the McNeill Lehrer report. As one blogger who reported on the changes noted, Lehrer has consistently approached the news with a certain seriousness and depth that is virtually non-existent on television anymore.

Last week in a piece about the show’s latest changes (new name, revamped website, etc.), Lehrer outlined his “guidelines… of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism.”  If everyone followed these rules, we might all breathe sighs of relief. Here they are:

    •  Do nothing I cannot defend.
    • Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
    • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
    • Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
    • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
    • Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
    • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
    • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
    • I am not in the entertainment business.

As important as all of these are, I REALLY like the last one.