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Ammunition against prior review and restraint Handling controversy, Part 3 of a series

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Part of the difficulty in reporting controversial issues is how to define the term and the concept. Any article, if misreported in some way, can be controversial. Journalists would start with looking at the process of gathering information, of observing and conducting research.

Each of these steps would take place following journalistically responsible legal and ethical guidelines, no matter their platform.

In short, we avoid controversy even in sensitive issues through preparation and reliance on journalistic standards.

Our goal in Part 3 of Ammunition Against Prior Review and Restraint is to show coherent reporting begins with preparation using a variety of approaches. Resources for at least some of those ways are listed below.

As Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel wrote in The Elements of Journalism, “Rather than rush to add context and interpretation, the press needs to concentrate on synthesis and verification. Sift out the rumor, the innuendo, the insignificant and the spin, and concentrate on what is true and important about a story.”

Reporting in scholastic media that omits essential pieces of information because of review or restraint is an indirect form of fabrication. It destroys not only truth but credibility and reliability. Worse, it may be a little recognized contributor to a world where stakeholders – politically right and left – grow to mistrust media of all types.

We hope these resources will help you and your students in the quest to find a process for reporting stories that are thorough, accurate – and coherent:

• Reporting controversy requires establishing a sound process
• Sensitive Issues Guide
• 10 Tips for Reporting Controversy
• Using Anonymous Sources with Care
• Verification Before Publishing Prevents Issues
• Importance of Getting Consent in Some Issues
• Tips for covering controversial subjects
• Covering controversial topics guidelines, teaching outline

• Questions to ask about controversial issues
• 10 roles activity
• Introduction to handling controversial reporting PowerPoint
• Confidential sources PowerPoint
• Resources for reporting controversial issues

 

 

 

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