Building a credible brand: Stick to the facts
by Candace and John Bowen
April 1. April Fools.
JEA listservians have carried out a lively discussions on the merits and demerits of publishing April Fools editions. SPLC executive director Frank LoMonte even said to keep his center’s phone number and e-mail address handy if students published such an issue.
Tough decision. Some commercial media publish such pieces. Why not scholastic media?
We think there are two core reasons for not publishing an April Fools issue:
• The information is known to be false. We spend the rest of the school year developing our credibility over controversy and defending students’ rights and obligation to print the truth. Then in one day we throw caution to the wind and go with information that is not only untrue but even could be taken to be misleading.
• We give others the right to know what is coming. Prior review. Prior approval. We do this, in some cases, with the best of intentions, so sources will not be caught unaware, and to make sure information is not too far out of line. We might even mix the untrue with the true, hoping our audiences can tell the difference. This scares us. We, including those of us carrying out JEA’s official position, argue and rant daily about the educational dangers of prior review. So in this case we want to say, here, check it out ahead of time? What will we say to those, now used to prior review, when they ask for it on something of substance?
Various journalism experts stress that ethical journalists do not add what is not there.
That includes making up information that is not true, or real.
Think about what you want your brand, your reputation, to be. Stick to credible journalism.
Modified and reposted from an original piece March 2, 2010.