Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dean Wright stepping down

Dean Wright, Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards for Reuters, is leaving the company.  Wright's profile on the Reuters website reads:
He leads the process of reviewing, establishing and encouraging adherence to standards in Thomson Reuters journalism and works with editors to promote innovation. He writes a regular column and works with Editor in Chief David Schlesinger in maintaining the editorial relationship with the Reuters trustees and upholding and promoting the Reuters Trust Principles
In his final "regular" column for Reuters (six months after his last column),Wright writes:
After six of the most rewarding years in my career, this is my final week at Reuters as global editor for ethics and standards.  In this role, it’s been my job to make sure Reuters journalists have the guidance, tools and oversight to help them practice journalism in a way that is consistent with the highest ethics and standards [...]
We also heard from people who pointed out occasional inconsistencies between the handbook guidance and the way we actually reported stories. And that’s great–because we believe in transparency.
"Occasional inconsistencies"?  Our 500+ posts over the last 19 months documenting systematic bias, the liberal use of propaganda, deep dishonesty, and outright racism demonstrated by Reuters correspondents reporting on the Middle East conflict puts lie to any notion that journalism is being practiced "consistent with the highest ethics and standards".  Although Reuters does provide its staff with guidance and tools to comply with ethical journalism standards, in the form of the much-vaunted Thomson Reuters Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism, the oversight function Wright refers to has clearly and utterly failed.

If Reuters believes in transparency, why doesn't the agency always correct errors openly, as promised by The 10 Absolutes of Reuters Journalism?  Why didn't the agency formally acknowledge and apologize to readers for the publication of doctored photographs in violation of its commitment to "never alter a still or moving image beyond the requirements of normal image enhancement"?  Why does Reuters regularly publish pieces that clearly fall into the category of op-eds while refusing to identify them as such?

Wright continues:
Not all interactions have been so pleasant. Partisans on all sides of Middle East issues are particularly prone to alleging bias in our reporting—and I’ve long since lost hope of convincing them that journalists can indeed put aside their own viewpoints and even ethnic backgrounds and report a story fairly and completely. That’s what our journalists do every day.
Interesting that Wright should point specifically to claims of bias in Reuters Middle East reporting.  There are hundreds of other military conflicts and political contests ongoing in the world with partisan and passionate observers.  Why, we wonder, do Wright and Reuters feel the heat so intensely in this area of reporting?  Could it be in fact, that Reuters journalists writing on the Middle East consistently fail to put aside their own viewpoints and report a story fairly and completely?

Not according to Wright:
And judging from my contacts with the Reuters journalists who do the hard work of daily journalism, they’re less cynical and more idealistic than ever. So many have told me that they see themselves as evangelists of truth, of independent reporting and the free flow of information. For most, this is much more than a job. They believe, as do I, that the world would be a poorer, meaner place without their efforts.
Which only goes to show that denial is not just a river in Egypt.


  1. People on the "other side" feel that because the media does not generally report the many ghoulish stories put forth by certain NGOs and other parties, the bias is pro-Israel. Another criticism, probably valid, is that Israeli deaths get closer coverage than Palestinian ones. As the journalists usually reside in Israel they get better access to pics of Israeli casualties.

    The media takes the fact that criticism comes from both sides to mean they are unbiased, without considering that one side might be quite unreasonable.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I don't agree that Israeli deaths get closer coverage than those of Palestinians, particularly with respect to photos. Have a look at a Reuters story where a Palestinian has been killed or wounded by an Israeli strike, like this one:

    and you'll typically see a photo of the injured individual(s) or funeral procession. By contrast, when Israelis are killed or wounded in an attack, Reuters typically runs a photo (IF they run a photo) of Israeli police investigating the crime scene or similar dispassionate depiction.

  3. Wright is wrong: I was bounced off Reuters fairly recently for not meeting their "standards." Well, I don't crop photos to fit a narrative. And unlike Dean Wright, I never worked for MSNBC - no paragon of objectivity and elevated standards. The threadbare default argument that certain language "offends" or fails to comport with "standards" is in itself code for bias and censorship.

    Plainly, I was removed from posting for my point of view, conservative. I've seen a trend in America the last many years that reveals leftists are generally the least tolerant and least disposed toward debate. Liberalism, the American left, is Marxist by nature. And it's all about control. When I come across intellectually dishonest vermin like Dean Wright, I find it affirming and actually vindicating that I pushed his buttons enough, tweaked his thin-skinned sensibilities to merit removal from his tiny parcel of the internet. But, like it or not, I am not chastened, nor am I restrained from speaking truth to power, albeit media power.

    Wright and his ilk clearly do not realize that many of us who fail to meet his subjective "standards" have been dealing with leftist mental Lilliputians for decades. I studied in Boston, often taught by open Marxists and Harvard Ph.Ds (usually one and the same). I know the game. One thing I've found, when the heavy hand is used and intolerance applied, it signals frustration at being on the losing, ultimately soon to be irrelevant side. Truth is revealed from the airing of opposing opinion; its product and yield are there to be examined by the consumer of information. People are smart enough to see through the sophistry and subterfuge through their own intellectual capacity and common sense. It is always preferable to err on the side of more information than less, that is if truth is your goal. At Reuters, Wright is Wrong.

  4. I forgot to sign my comment "Wright is Wrong."

    My pen name is "JOHN SVENGALI."

  5. Dean Wright is the Eric Holder of Reuters
    we'll know that Reuters has come back from fantasy world when they fire him