Should journalists take an oath similar to the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors? Local journalist Mel Baker explored that idea on his blog and is asking for opinions about it. He writes:
- “… the greatest crisis facing us is the blurring of the line between opinion and journalism. The wall that is supposed to separate our work from advertising or public relations is increasingly under threat. More worrisome still, fewer and fewer of our fellow citizens understand that there ever was and should be such a distinction!”
He credits Bill Moyers for first suggesting the oath, but takes the idea a step further:
- It could remind us as journalists of our responsibilties to provide factual, fair and unbiased news and information to our fellow citizens. If such an oath were adopted by individual journalists it could help us resist any institutional pressures we might face to violate those standards.
A Journalist’s Oath or Pledge might also reassure a skeptical public that we are committed to upholding the highest standards in our reporting. Ideally, it would provide the same moral force that the Hippocratic Oath does for patients who know their doctors have vowed to “first, do no harm.”
Here’s a link to his blog.