(Left to right) GlobalPost Executive Editor Charles M. Sennott, HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Egyptian journalist Abeer Saady and me.

 

I referenced these Principles of Journalism during a panel on the difficulty of training journalists at the International Press Institute’s World Congress in Amman, Jordan. These principles were developed by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their book “The Elements of Journalism.” I think they’re the best encapsulation of the definition of good journalism.

1) Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.2) Its first loyalty is to citizens.

3) Its essence is a discipline of verification.

4) Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

5) It must serve as an independent monitor of power.

6) It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.

7) It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.

8) It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.

9) Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

Some of these are quite easy to support — governments and press alike. “Obligation to truth” and “discipline of verification,” for instance. However, in countries without an elected leader or ruler, the government might not appreciate the “first loyalty to citizens” and “independent monitor of power.”

Hence the inherent subversiveness in teaching good journalism.