Opinion: Leininger – Journalists must hold to high standard

Kevin Leininger’s column in today’s News-Sentinel talks about a recent story of a fellow journalist’s arrest.  He starts things off with the following paragraph:

According to a new Pew Research Center study, 63 percent of Americans don’t trust the news media – an increase of 10 percentage points since 2007 and the highest level of skepticism since polling began in 1985.

He goes on to talk about the recent arrest for alleged drunk driving of INC’s Mary Collins.  Apparently her on air apology went over and above what Leininger felt was acceptable.  He talks  about how journalists should be held to higher standards especially where their own is concerned.  I’ll admit, I didn’t see the telecast, so I have no idea what she said or did.

With all due respect to Leininger, to equate journalists, in this day and age, with, “… a county councilman, a Chamber of Commerce executive and a judge…” is putting them on a level which they are not.  True we are disappointed when a reporter’s personal problems are brought to light, but unlike a judge or councilman, it usually doesn’t bring into question their entire career or decisions made – unless those reporters were directly related to their reporting.

The reason Americans don’t trust the news media is simple: too often, the “truth” is skewed, biased and often times, for whatever reasons, mistakes are made in reporting or omitting the facts.  If you read this blog, you’ll know I’ve pointed out a few of these problems – as a matter of fact, with Leininger’s reporting.

I think most would agree that a reporter’s personal life has minimal bearing on how we view their reporting.  What does impact our view of their reporting is how accuracy and fairness.  An example of a real scandal is something like a respected newspaper whose reporter was reporting about stories as if he were there, when in fact he was hundreds or thousands of miles away.  Or flat out being wrong on the facts.  Or sensationalizing stories to drum up business or ratings.  It’s these things that have given Americans reason to distrust the news media.  It’s also these reasons that have spurred the popularity of blogs and information on the Internet – and also a reason for this blog’s continued existence.

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  1. Based on what he wrote I’m not even certain what he’s getting upset about.

    I will say that he managed to be judgmental without directly referencing god/bible/christianity this time.

  2. As I was out for my daily walk/hike, I thought about what it is about Leininger’s writing that bothers me. I think the problem boils down to the fact that it’s passed off as news when clearly it is biased and doesn’t always give the entire story. It does say at the bottom of every column:

    This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel.

    That should be at the top of the column or his articles placed on the editorial pages – not the front page as is often the case.

  3. Yes, I keep forgetting about his column getting inexplicably stuck on the front page, since I rarely see the actual paper itself.

    “Hubris” is the word that comes to my mind.


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