Jim Lehrer’s Rules of Journalism
- » Do nothing I cannot defend.
- Do not distort, lie, slant, or hype.
- Do not falsify facts or make up quotes.
- » 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 caring and good a person as I am.
- » Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
- Assume everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
- » Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story mandates otherwise.
- » Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label them as such.
- » Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
- Do not broadcast profanity or the end result of violence unless it is an integral and necessary part of the story and/or crucial to understanding the story.
- Acknowledge that objectivity may be impossible but fairness never is.
- Journalists who are reckless with facts and reputations should be disciplined by their employers.
- My viewers have a right to know what principles guide my work and the process I use in their practice.
- » I am not in the entertainment business.
(via Kottke, who notes, “In his 2006 Harvard commencement address, Lehrer reduced that list to an essential nine items, marked with » above.”)