Panelists discuss news integrity in media

Rachel Freeman

The Denius Symposium on News Integrity brought together a panel of four journalism professionals Wednesday to speak about balancing journalism ethics with the 24-hour news cycle.

Topics discussed included the definition of journalism, the public’s continued distrust of the media, the importance of context when reporting stories, media’s biases and the competing interests of releasing stories quickly and releasing accurate stories.

Moderator Regina Lawrence said the “meat of what we want to get at” is the question of whether journalism in the digital age should follow different journalism ethics than those of past eras of reporting. Panelist Lisa Myers said the old standards of media have to continue even in the digital age. 

“I think the same old standards have to apply,” Myers, former NBC News chief congressional correspondent, said. “I think the speed at which journalists have to work now and the proliferation of media including media with different standards than traditional media makes the [ethical] decisions even more difficult. The importance is to verify even if you’re going to be beaten. You have to be right.”

Journalism sophomore Michael Saenz attended as part of his Digital Storytelling Basics class. 

“I most enjoyed hearing from Lisa Myers,” Saenz said. “I feel her points were very clear, and she had strong things to say on many topic points. Overall, I learned a great deal about the ethics of journalism from this event.”

In addition to Meyers and moderator Lawrence, current director of George S. Turnbull Portland Center and the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon, the remaining speakers were Angie Drobnic Holan, editor of PolitiFact; Mike Wilson, editor of The Dallas Morning News; and Keith Woods, vice president of diversity in news and operations at National Public Radio. 

The symposium was sponsored by the School of Journalism and the Annette Strauss Institute. R.B. Brenner, director of the School of Journalism, spoke about the school’s intention to host similar future events.

“This is not a one-off event,” Brenner said. “But rather the first in a continuing examination of the issue of news integrity, values, trust, and perhaps trickiest of all, objectivity. Future events will include newsmakers who have been covered by journalists and consumers of news who have been troubled by what they hear, see and read.”