62Present Stories in a Way That Addresses Their ComplexityMany issues in the news are layered and highly complex. Developing a thorough understanding
P a g e|997of issues requires dedication and a sometimes lengthy investigation, and, especially in a world where rapid reporting is the norm, there can be a temptation to gloss over the finer points of an issue for the sake of efficiency. Additionally, most consumers of news, increasingly busy and overwhelmed by the amount of information available, want stories that can be quickly digested and easily comprehended. However, as the Committee of Concerned Journalists points out, the media must balance what readers want with what they need but cannot anticipate.63Oversimplifying issues, whether for the sake of a quick story or to satisfy public tastes, becomes a violation of the vital information premise.64Present Diverse PerspectivesWhen discussing what he considers to be one of the key issues in professional journalism, media ethicist Jeremy Iggers points out that because democracy means the widest possible participation of citizens in public life, diversity in journalism is of fundamental importance.65Not only should newsroom staff represent a diversity of gender and races, but journalists should also speak for all groups in society—”not just those with attractive demographics,” as the Committee for Concerned Journalists puts it. Journalists should represent the underrepresented because ignoring citizens is a form of disenfranchisement.66Monitor Government and CorporationsWhen the framers of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed freedom of the press, one of the things they had in mind was the ability of the news media to serve as a watchdog over those in positions of power.67It is the duty of the press to ensure that business is conducted in the open and that government actions are public. One famous example of the media fulfilling its watchdog role was The Washington Post’s investigation of the 1972 Watergate scandal. During Richard Nixon’s presidency, journalists at the Postuncovered information linking government agencies
P a g e|998and officials to the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex as part of an attempt to sabotage the Democratic campaign and guarantee Nixon’sreelection.68Media coverage of the scandal increased publicity and ultimately put pressure on the government that led to an investigation and the prosecution of many who were involved.69Characteristics of Reliable JournalismWhile CNN and other news networks took some criticism for their delay in reporting Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, others commended the news organizations for waiting for official confirmation. For many journalists and members of the public, ensuring accuracy, even when it means delays, is a hallmark of responsible journalism.