This week’s media lab reading assignment dealt with the issues of anonymous sources and ignorant reporters. Understanding both issues is essential to understanding the public’s distrust of news media. The first issue is much harder to prevent than the second, in my opinion.
The issue of protecting sources has been around pretty much since the beginning of print journalism, and I don’t see the problem disappearing. The problem lies, in the public expectation of journalists and not in the journalists’ work. Sources know they can refuse to share their information unless they remain confidential, and as a result journalists are left with few options. Clearly unnamed sources should be avoided whenever possible, and they do add credibility issues to a story, but I think the fault lies mostly with the people trying to take advantage of journalists.
The issue of ignorant reporters is less acceptable. Although it is ridiculous to expect reporters to be educated in every topic they will cover, there is no excuse for complete ignorance. Simple research would solve the problem completely. It is a part of a journalist’s job to have a basic understanding of the topics they are assigned. Extra training an education is also important. I can definitely see how an ignorant reporter could lose the trust of the public. If reporters would take the time to be fully prepared for their jobs, public opinion could be greatly changed.