CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the Siegal committee.
There’s an old adage that claims journalists are only as good as the sources that feed them. Here’s a new one: Journalists are only as credible as the ethics that guide them.
Robert Novak’s now controversial column raises important journalistic questions about sources, disclosure, and anonymity.
His handling of those questions shows how the credibility of journalists – and the lives of subjects and sources – can turn on the use of a word, the disclosure of a name, and the use of anonymous sources.
Novak’s assistant declined a request that he discuss the column, but his previous comments suggest he might have benefited from a more rigorous decision-making process.
The situation underlines the importance of taking three critical steps before clicking the PUBLISH key:
- Examine your principles.
- Ask more questions.
- Consider the source.
Examine your principles
The ethical issues emerging from Novak’s actions place all three of Poynter’s guiding principles into tension with one another. What could Novak — or other journalists — do to report the truth as fully as possible? Read more