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Open Letter: A Return to Truth, Journalism, and Integrity in Media

Jacob Brain

Author

Dear Friend,

There’s little need to convince you that we are living in unprecedented times. We now sit weeks after the historical 2020 elections and on the brink of what seems to be the second wave of an international pandemic. The division in our nation, the challenges in our economy, and the coming winter all paint the picture of a future that will require stoutness of heart.

Yet what brings me to this post is something grander in scope and scale. What brings me to this post is the need for a reformation in our collective approach to news, journalism, and integrity in media.

Our society sits in stark contrast to a generation ago, where news media carried a level of integrity and trust in the public eye. Now, we live in the “fake news” environment, spurred on by digital media and social networking, where opinions and polarity draw attention and clicks, which draw revenue the outlets. No longer is the bar set at the height of moral and journalist integrity; it’s lowered even below the “if it bleeds, it leads” jest of just decades ago. It seems the only judgment passed by the media has to do with the bottom line, not on the outcomes and social responsibility of coverage.

This point could be explored in ad nauseam – and I believe some people have been on this same course of discovery and challenge in our culture.

Yet, I present to you a clarion call for my industry, of digital marketers, to stand above and beyond and commit to the overall integrity of digital media.

First, we will strive with unflinching poise to uphold the Professional Journalist Code of Ethics no matter what channel we produce content for.

Second, we will stand apart from organizations that fail to follow or admit failure to follow these same ethics. This means not linking to, commenting on, following or re-posting any of these sources. It means not engaging them to increase interactions, but simply unfollowing and not giving them our attention or clicks.

Thirdly, we will develop and advocate for objective truth in all media through proactive training and outreach, as well as through continually evolving professional standards within our own organizations.

These points sound simple, yet full reformation to these points is a world away from the online landscape of late 2020. I would encourage you to share this post with others and to adopt your own internal standards of content, online journalism, and media in your professional sphere.

At New North, we are striving to preserve the professionalism of content and media development. We will uphold these standards and encourage other companies to do the same, and personally separate our attention from those that do not.

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