In their recent columns, two Canadian public editors, Sylvia Stead of the Globe and Mail and Kathy English of the Toronto Star, looked at fighting fake news.
Stead wrote Nov. 24 about the importance of adhering to journalism standards including having a transparent corrections policy and practice. “Credible journalism has standards for correcting errors and explains its sources,” she explained.
Noting that the Globe and Mail joined The Trust Project, “an international coalition of reputable media organizations working together to promote truthful, verified news with fairness and accuracy,” Stead acknowledged, “We make mistakes most days, but we correct them transparently. And the Globe’s updated Code of Conduct, the standards for its journalism, appears on the homepage.”
Further, Stead highlighted the importance of readers flagging errors or problems, explaining, “The readers’ role in maintaining fair and accurate media cannot be overstated.”
For her part, English, the longtime public editor for the Toronto Star, recommended adhering to journalism standards to avoid publishing fake news in her Dec. 1 column. “Believe nothing at face value; verify what sources say; check and double check. That is what we call due diligence in journalism. This is a core value of the Star’s journalistic standards,” she wrote.
English pointed to the Washington Post’s recent report detailing how a woman who appeared to be linked to James O’Keefe’s undercover organization Project Veritas tried to dupe the Post with a false claim about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore impregnating her as a teenager. English called that report “a master class in the journalistic transparency today’s media environment demands.”
“Real reporters do not simply publish what anyone tells them, no matter how dramatic the story presented,” English reminded. “Real reporting demands that journalists always take steps to verify what sources tell them, check out the reliability of all sources, seek documentation to back up what sources tell them, ask questions, go back and ask more questions.”