Rosen gives thumbs-up to NPR’s new ethics handbook

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Media critic Jay Rosen takes a look at NPR’s new ethics handbook, released last week, and likes what he sees, particularly the handbook’s guidance regarding balance and fairness in reporting. “At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources,” the guide says. “So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth.”

“With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of ‘he said, she said’ journalism,” Rosen writes on his PressThink blog. “It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being ‘fair to the truth,’ which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.”

Rosen’s post also includes a brief Q&A with Matt Thompson, an editorial product manager at NPR, who co-wrote the new handbook.