Jim Lehrer on journalism

From Jim Lehrer, probably one of America’s finest journalists (and host of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS): yet more journalism guidelines.

For journalists, obviously, but also for bloggers who claim (or aspire) to be journalists.

Rocky Mountains PBS: Jim Lehrer in Denver

Jim Lehrer, anchor of “The NewsHour,” was in Denver December 8 for a Rocky Mountain PBS 50th anniversary luncheon. Lehrer spoke to a packed room at the Pinnacle Club about his career with “The NewsHour,” his work moderating presidential debates, his new novel — and even his early days as a Continental Trailways ticket agent in Victoria, Texas. Watch portions of Lehrer’s talk by topic or watch the entire speech below.

From his speech:

I was asked whether I had any personal guidelines we use in our practice of journalism on The NewsHour. Here’s part of what I sent them. Our guidelines, my guidelines.

  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart, and as caring, and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter unless a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

Those are our guidelines.

Can you spell “highest standards”?  Setting up a blog is the easy part.

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