NPR National President and CEO John Lansing joined the Belmont community for a conversation about integrity in journalism, highlighting its importance especially during an election year. This event was hosted by Belmont’s Kennedy Center for Business Ethics, part of the Jack C. Massey College of Business, and featured a conversation between Lansing and Dean Sarah Gardial as a part of the Debate 2020 Programming.
The conversation began with an explanation of journalistic integrity, which Lansing defined as beginning with intent, questioning what the intention of the journalism being produced is. Is it to inform, enlighten and contextualize? Or is it to confuse, disrupt and produce misinformation? Lansing explained how with the current expansion of misinformation online it has never been more important that true, unbiased news be available to the American people. For NPR, independence helps support intent.
“Independence allows them to seek the truth and tell the truth and to do it contextually and to do it with rigor,” Lansing said. This includes a rigorous editing process that checks and double checks the facts, focusing on telling the truth no matter who it affects positively or negatively.
Lansing also described integrity in journalism as a partnership between media and audiences. He recognized that both journalists and consumers have a responsibility. Journalists must elevate their work and understand their responsibility to the American people and the constitutional privilege to do the best work they can. News consumers must work hard to get to the sources that are fair with an honest attempt to inform the public. Consumers should also put effort into consuming a variety of media in order to spot biases and make informed decisions. All contributors and consumers should hold social media accountable as publishers of news.
“We’re in this together. We exist to inform the American public and our only motivation is to build trustworthiness with the American public. We believe the trustworthiness that we have is based on our hard work and making sure that we’re not operating in support of any political agenda or any agenda whatsoever. The only agenda is to seek the truth, report the truth and be as transparent and rigorous as possible,” Lansing said.
Lansing engaged in dialogue with students’ questions and closed by reiterating the power of truth and the responsibility we all have to stand up for it.
You can watch this event on YouTube here.