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Fighting fake news with Trust Chains

Fake news has been around longer than news itself, but it took someone as influential and opinionated as US President Donald Trump to breathe new life into it. While critics say Trump’s “fake news” is simply news he dislikes, the issue has more profound ramifications for modern free-press democracies, making us question who and what we can trust. But all is not lost. Fake news can be conquered, especially if each and every one of us works on our Trust Chains. … Read More

Social media – the death knell of the death knock

Two recent events in Australia have again brought to the fore the impacts social media are having on life in general and the media in particular.
The first was a mass stabbing at a crowded shopping mall in the upscale eastern suburbs of Sydney. The second also began with a stabbing, and demonstrated how social media could quickly magnify a relatively mundane crime into a street riot. Read More

Why “can” is not the same as “should”

The case of a 21st Century good Samaritan whose act of kindness backfired should remind us all how treacherous are the waters around privacy and public interest and how good intentions can often go badly awry. It also serves to highlight an issue that should be front of mind for every principled journalist, the distinctions between ethical and legal behaviour … or why “can” is not the same as “should”. Read More

Why sorry seems to be the hardest word

Nobody likes publicly admitting they have made a mistake, and journalists are no exception. Indeed, to their readers, viewers and listeners, at times they seem actively averse to saying they are wrong, which is one reason why journalists languish at the lower levels of trust surveys. Another reason is that theirs is one of few professions that make explicit efforts to expose their work to public scrutiny, warts and all. Read More

Are you a what, how or who journalist?

People become journalists for a host of reasons. Some love to write, others want to meet people, some believe strongly in justice, others like variety in their work, some see the job providing status, others enjoy solving puzzles. While almost anyone can be a journalist and take an interest in all the WWWWWH issues, there are still inclinations within each person to be stronger in some attributes than others. Read More

Social media are mixed blessings for journalists

It is hard to imagine life without social media – or to remember the world before it. Whether you love them or hate them, use or avoid them, social media have been enormously influential, almost as powerful as the internet itself. That is partly because even those people not directly linked, liked, shared or tweeted on social media find themselves inescapably swimming in the social media soup created by everyone else. Read More

Social media trap for journalists

Social media have become both a blessing and curse for traditional media but two recent cases at opposite sides of the world have shown that news managers have the ability to choose which they will be if only they have a better understanding of how social media policies relate to the ethics underpinning their core business, together with the nerve to apply that understanding when times get tough. Read More

Poem that signalled the end of the Trump era

Journalism and literature occasionally cross paths – sometimes even swords – usually each making the other stronger, more relevant and lyrical. Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb, written for and delivered at President Joe Biden’s 2021 Inauguration, is a good example of the power of such synergy, moving from timeless grandeur to the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump. Read More

The weasels are still with us

Inveterate liars like Team Trump have come and gone down the ages but the language they – and others – use to disguise the disgusting lives on. Doublespeak or weasel words have a long history in public life even though most of us don’t understand what they mean. As languages grow, so too do weasel words, and journalists should not give them oxygen. Indeed, we should lead the fight to prick these bubbles of hot air. Read More

The aerobic art of interviewing

One of the most important skills of great journalism is not so much the questions we ask as the answers we hear. We get that by focusing on our interviewees and listening intently to what they say. Award-winning writer and broadcaster Siobhán McHugh writes about ‘aerobic listening’. It can be exhausting but it helps subjects to open up – like a force field. Here she shares the secret of aerobic listening in difficult interviews. Read More

Who else if not whistleblowers?

Barely a day goes by in western democracies without some new exploitation of public trust, major abuse of the law or plain old government corruption being exposed by the media’s sanitising light. But while journalists are beavering away on investigations, the initial spark is almost always lit by a whistleblower. As the latest scandal touching one of Australia’s biggest companies shows, whistleblowers get little thanks. Read More