‘I Am Not in the Entertainment Business’

and Other Rules of MacNeil/Lehrer Journalism

As the PBS Newshour once again changes it’s name and enhances it’s News gathering and presentation of using the tools of expanding technology in the 21st century Jim Lehrer closed the friday show off with the following:

JIM LEHRER: People often ask me if there are guidelines in our practice of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism. Well, yes, there are. And here they are:

   * 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.

   * And, finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

   Here is how I closed a speech about our changes to our PBS stations family last spring:

   “We really are the fortunate ones in the current tumultuous world of journalism right now. When we wake up in the morning, we only have to decide what the news is and how we are going to cover it. We never have to decide who we are and why we are there.”

   That is the way it has been for these nearly 35 years. And that’s the way it will be forever. And for the NewsHour, there will always be a forever.

Visit the The New but still PBS News Hour to view the new look, new add-ons, new or expanded collaborations with others and more.


    • jimstaro on December 5, 2009 at 13:14

    Are what should be followed by All Media Outlets, seperating them from their ‘entertainment and opinion’ addon’s, which is many cases, even local outlets, is now totally blurred journalism or more often not even journalism!

    They should also be followed by the legitimate new technology online sources with no expanded ego’s nor arrogance if the few become the popular high traffic sites. And everyone should check other sources before giving senseless and way to often possibly dangerous opinionated responses

  1. I’m a critic.

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