Introduction to Accuracy and Fairness:

Accuracy and fairness relate to the ethical concepts of independence, transparency and seeking the truth. Journalists or advertisers must accurately state facts and provide multiple opportunities for all voices to be heard. All sources should be treated with professionalism, and allowed the chance to speak for themselves. All quotes provided by sources should be reported without bias or interpretation.

Case Study 1

Eric Deggans wrote about how the principles of fairness and accuracy played into the coverage of Trayvon Martin’s death. In the case study, Deggans argues that the speedy news cycle has journalists, pundits and social media reactors rolling out information simultaneously. By not accurately and fairly reporting the story, journalists opened themselves up to reflect personal biases and incorrect information when the case became a national news story. (Note this case study works hand-in-hand with lessons on diversity)

Case Study 2

Ben Adler wrote about the accuracy of Fox News reports. In the study, he dissects the cable network’s coverage of comments by Anthony Weiner, the former New York representative, about the Affordable Care Act. Adler concludes that Fox does not fairly or accurately present information to viewers. (Note this case study works hand-in-hand with lessons on transparency or misrepresentation)

Classroom Activities: 

Reporting accurate facts can take some digging. A quick game of Grapevine can remind students how information can become twisted as it spreads from person to person. You can designate the last person in the line to be the reporter who hears a rumor, then attempts to question each person about what they heard and where they heard it. You can also have students take a hidden bias test developed by Harvard, the University of Virginia and University of Washington by going to Project Implicit



Media Helping Media

Media Helping Media has a guide to fairness on their website.

National Public Radio (NPR) Fairness

National Public Radio has a page about how they handle fairness in their newsroom.

National Public Radio (NPR) Accuracy

National Public Radio (NPR) has a page about accuracy in their online ethics handbook.