There is a need for well-informed reporters

The general populace no longer feels that the mass media does a good job of reporting.

Public trust in the news media has eroded, and according to a 2012 Gallup Poll, 60 percent  of Americans say they have “little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”

After drastic misreporting of the Boston Marathon bombing case in which Cable News Network incorrectly reported that a “dark-skinned male” had been arrested, CNN chief Jeff Zucker bragged about how his network reached the highest ratings it has had in a decade two days after the reporting.

Although the CNN reporter in question relied on three different sources, the sources were questionable.

In response, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show critiqued that, “The lesson they [CNN] can take from this is it doesn’t matter how much they betray our trust, we’ll keep coming back. We’re in an abusive relationship with CNN.”

Although Stewart’s television program is far from unbiased, the political satirist brings up a valid point.

News sources like CNN post and send out updates under the premise that speculation and reporting may not be accurate, but failure to be as thorough as possible is a disservice to readers.

“I know you [CNN] think that saying this could all be wrong makes it OK, but it doesn’t make it OK,” Stewart said.

Thomas Patterson, professor of government and the press at Harvard University bluntly examines the failings of reporting today as well as “knowledge-based reporting” in his new book, “Informing the News.”

Patterson proposes a solution called “knowledge-based reporting.”

Patterson believes that journalists need to become more informed in order to provide better news coverage.

“Unless journalists are more deeply informed about the subjects they cover, they will continue to misinterpret them and be vulnerable to manipulation by their sources,” Journalist’s Resource comments on Patterson’s ideas.

News outlets have a special “free press” privilege under the First Amendment, but with that privilege comes an obligation to the general public—to provide news and information that is as unbiased and accurate as possible.

Although most journalists cannot always be experts in the field that they report on, reporters have a responsibility to do the amount of thorough research and information gathering needed to be adequately informed about the subjects they are writing about.

It is in this way that correspondents can accurately cover events and issues, and help eradicate the type of sensationalism and bias that stems from being under-informed.

Helen Lee / Photo editor

Helen Lee can be reached at