Where Are the Journalism Standards?

October 9, 2012

I have been reading Our Sacred Honor by William J. Bennett. The book enriches my appreciation for the depth and breadth of the lives, souls, minds, and hearts of the Founders. Our culture is midget compared to theirs. Our “progress” seems a solid anti-evolution argument.

Benjamin Franklin, a multi-talented genius, bought and ran a newspaper because of his interest in writing and printing. He wrote about his standards for what is fit to print, and his concerns about a corrupted press. Bennett quoted him in his book. (You will notice that is used to be important to capitalize Nouns.)

See what you think:

“In the Conduct of my Newspaper I carefully excluded all Libelling and Personal Abuse, which is of late Years become so disgraceful to our Country. Whenever I was solicited to insert any thing of that kind, and the Writers pleaded as they generally did, the Liberty of the Press, and that a Newspaper was like a Stage Coach in which any one who would pay had a Right to a Place, my Answer was, that I would print the Piece

Is It Fit to Print?

separately if desired, and the Author might have as many Copies as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to spread his Detraction, and that having contracted with my Subscribers to furnish them with what might be either useful or entertaining, I could not fill their Papers with private Altercation in which they had no Concern without doing them manifest Injustice.

“Now many of our Printers make no scruple of gratifying the Malice of Individuals by false Accusations of the fairest Characters among ourselves, augmenting Animosity even to the producing of Duels, and are moreover so indiscreet as to print scurrilous Reflections on the Government of neighbouring States, and even on the Conduct of our best national Allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious Consequences.

“….These Things I mention as a Caution to young Printers, & that they may be encouraged not to pollute their Presses and disgrace their Profession by such infamous Practices, but refuse steadily; as they may see by my Example; that such a Course of Conduct will not on the whole be injurious to their Interests.”

Can you imagine if the press operated this way today? Do you think you might start to trust them again? Do you think you might start to believe what they print?

Tabloids would be gone. Blatantly biased news reports would be rare.

We can wish.

What do you think? How could journalism become honorable again? Have you seen a decline in the past 30 years?

Images via: MorgueFile, FreeDigitalPhotos, and Stock.xchng

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