Pulliam Professor David Hall Examines Reporting Standards

Pulliam Professor David Hall Examines Reporting Standards

April 12, 2002

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April 12, 2002, Greencastle, Ind. - "Can journalists get things right, and fairly right?" That's the question David Hall, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism poses in Reporting Standards, the first in a series of reflections and considerations on news gathering. Just issued, Reporting Standards examines what is perhaps the most important aspect of journalism: the quality of information gathered. DePauw recognizes that policies and practices of journalism evolve and are improved through conversations. DePauw also believes standards should be affirmed, which this study does plainly.

"DePauw, with the issuance of Reporting Standards, aims to participate actively in those conversations for many years," said David Hall, the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, who prepared Reporting Standards and directs the overall projects, "Directions in Journalism".  Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "The Basis" 1200KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "The Basis" 680KB] "I think there is always, in any profession, a need to reevalute your standards. In journalism, so much change has gone on in the last few years -- in ownership, technology, online coming on, a revolution in magazines -- that it's time to take a look and say 'What is it that is really still the basis of what we do?' If you get the basis right, then you can spin off a lot of good things. If you don't have the basis right, then you're like a car on slick ice," says Hall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former editor of the Denver Post who also helmed the Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

Reporting Standards discusses not only accuracy and fairness, but also requirements like numeracy and compassion. It examines the abuse of anonymous sources and addresses the need for reporting in journalistic commentary. Reporting Standards takes the unusual point of view that intellectual honesty should be inculcated as the gold standard against which all other newsroom practices should be measured. Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Greater Understanding" 98KB] "We hope that it will contribute, not just to understanding, but to a greater debate about what standards ought to be," the Pulliam Professor says.

Nearly 3,000 copies of Reporting Standards have been made immediately available to professional groups, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Newspaper Association of America and the American Press Institute. Other distributions and mailings are planned. The booklet is also available online as a PDF file by clicking here. (David Hall on distribution: Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Distribution Plan" 605KB])

DePauw is the birthplace of the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi, home of one of the nation's most respected college newspapers, The DePauw, and is the alma mater of a number of legendary journalists, including Bernard Kilgore, Kenneth C. Hogate, W. Donald Maxwell, Eugene C. and Eugene S. Pulliam, James B. Stewart and John McWethy. Hall's hope is to Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "DePauw's Voice" 711KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "DePauw's Voice" 360KB] "take the basic concerns of journalism and look at them through DePauw's history of journalism, and essentially put DePauw's unique voice into the conversation and debate."

"David Hall's examination of Reporting Standards is something that everyone can benefit from," according to DePauw University President Robert G. Bottoms. "It's a thoughtful piece by a respected veteran editor that will give journalists, those who are subjects of news stories, and consumers of newspapers, magazines, television newscasts and news web sites plenty to ponder."

Hall is also distributing copies of his work to business, religious, educational, philanthropic and political leaders, for their review. Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Non-Journalists" 206KB]"We would like to see men and women in those fields be better informed to ask questions and we're hoping that Reporting Standards will do that, as well as be read within the journalistic fraternity." (More from Prof. Hall: Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Asking Questions" 910KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Asking Questions" 414KB])

Other issues of "Directions in Journalism" are planned over the next three years. Those scheduled will cover writing, in the fall of 2002, and editing, in the spring of 2003. The theme of intellectual honesty will also be considered in those reports.

David Hall was appointed the Eugene S.Pulliam Visiting Professor of Journalism in August, 2001. The first journalist to hold the endowed chair, he came to DePauw after 40 years in newspaper journalism, 20 of those as the editor of metropolitan daily newspapers. Of Reporting Standards and "Directions in Journalism", Hall says, Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Good" 179KB] "I hope it is good for the profession, and I hope it is good for DePauw."