Friday, December 4, 2009

Jim Lehrer’s journalistic guidelines

He read them tonight, the final night of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which on Monday becomes the PBS NewsHour:

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 until 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.

I am not in the entertainment business.
I found these guidelines online in a 2007 commencement address Lehrer gave at Wesleyan University. I’m imagining him reading these guidelines not to college graduates but to fellow journalists. They are for the most part not listening. But I’m looking forward to seeing Jim Lehrer on television again on Monday night.

A related post
Jim Lehrer's Post-it Notes

More on the PBS NewsHour
Launching the PBS NewsHour (PBS)
Stressing the Web, NewsHour Begins an Overhaul (New York Times)

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael

I too watched Jim's close tonight, in Sydney Australia as I do every night ... I record The Lehrer Newshour and watch it every night in preference to what passes for news in my own country, Australia (public and private broadcasting, have become the same, Murdoch formula).

Jim Lehrer is a truly amazing & great man, the style of journalism he demands is the last bastion of a civilised society in my opinion. Heaven help us all if the show were to ever disappear.

I hope he can continue to co anchor for many more year to come, and look forward to the changes that he has spoken about.

Reg Rick

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for writing, Reg Rick, and for the link to the Post article.