Last week, Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway introduced America to the term âalternative factsâ after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed â despite contradictory evidence — that Trumpâs inauguration gathered the largest crowd ever for that event.
Suddenly the press was faced with calling out blatant lies. Thatâs not something seasoned journalists enjoy doing â or even do that often.
In the pedantic world of the written word, âlieâ is about intent, and news people arenât comfortable with establishing motivations hidden inside someoneâs head. In fact, NPRâs senior vice president for newsÂ Michael Oreskes says NPR will not use the word âlieâ as itâs much too close to someoneâs opinion of a matter.
âI think the minute you start branding things with a word like ‘lie,’ you push people away from you,â he said.
So, looking at journalistic ethics in this new age: how does the profession confront lies without professing an opinion?
We ask how journalists can navigate this new landscape and accurately report when presented with disinformation. Is âlieâ really a bad word in an article? And why doesn’t honest reporting seem to stick right now?
To discuss this, weÂ talk withÂ Lindita Camaj,Â assistant journalism professor at the University of Houston, andÂ Julie Mason, a former Houston Chronicle reporter whoÂ now hosts The Press Pool on SiriusXM’s POTUS channel.
(Above:Â Guest host Ernie Manouse (L) talks with Lindita Camaj, journalism professor at the University of Houston. Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media)