Daily Archives: April 6, 2007

Why the News Media Sucks 2: Trust

Chapter 1 – The Greatest Generation

Glenn Greenwald, continuing his examination of the modern media, posted a summary today of a conversation he had with ABC News Senior VP (of “Corporate Communications”, for which read: PR flack) Jeffrey Schneider. On Tuesday, Greenwald criticized the ABC report on Iran’s supposed acceleration of it nuclear program and the startling claim that they could have an atomic bomb “by 2009” because it never named a source or explained why it didn’t. Schneider responded:

Schneider, though somewhat combative at times, was perfectly rational and civil, but the crux of his defense was this: we are ABC News, the award-winning and respected news network of Peter Jennings, and we can therefore be trusted when we say that these sources are credible. That was the premise on which many Americans previously operated, but it isn’t any more….

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Journalists find any criticisms based on that lack of trust to be “outrageous,” because they think they’ve done nothing to deserve it. They see themselves as trustworthy and solid professionals with a record that merits great respect and faith. After all, they win Peabody Awards. Their failure to recognize just how fundamentally broken their profession has become — and how little faith so many people have in it — explains, more than anything else, why they are not really changing how they operate. It also explains why they are incapable of understanding criticisms of this sort as anything other than outrageous (or “partisan-motivated”) slander.

(emphasis in the original)

The trust issue is a good place to start because in order to understand how touchy modern journalists are about it, you have to understand how different – and how recent – not being trusted is in media news history.

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