December 6th, 2009
Lehrer Shares His Guidelines
By Andrew M. Seaman
One of the most familiar and reliable nightly news broadcasts will have a new name on Monday night.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer will become the PBS NewsHour.
This is the fifth time the broadcast has changed its name; however, the broadcast’s journalistic quality has been a constant.
As students, we are confronted with the changing landscape of our profession, but legends like Jim Lehrer help us remember who we are and what we do.
“I promise you one thing is never going to change, and that’s our mission,” said Lehrer at the close of Friday’s broadcast.
He then outlined the guidelines for what he called “MacNeil/Lehrer journalism,” which is a reference to the first anchor of the NewsHour – Robert MacNeil.
1.) Do nothing I cannot defend
2.) Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me
3.) Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story
4.) Assume that the viewer is as smart and caring and as good a person as I am
5.) Assume the same about all people on whom I report
6.) Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise
7.) Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything
8.) Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions – No one ever should be allowed to attack another anonymously
9.) I am not in the entertainment business
Whether you agree with all of Lehrer guidelines, or not, he has surely earned our attention. We thank him for sharing his knowledge and thoughts.
Here is the video: