The debate on the role of journalism throughout society is increasingly important and urgent. In a polarized, often intolerant world, this debate can no longer take place only in universities and newsrooms. The most important leaders and social actors need to be called in to actively take part in this conversation. This is essential to reaffirm the importance of journalism in the transformation of society, defending democracy, freedom of expression and sustainable economic growth.
Newsrooms need to hear the demands of the most diverse groups and acknowledge the mistakes they make in a very transparent way. The aim of this text is to contribute to this debate. It must be recognized that media is being increasingly questioned. But it is also necessary to show its virtues and importance, indicating ways to strengthen professional journalism.
Journalism today faces at least three major challenges: the increase in physical violence against journalists in various parts of the world; the explosion of fake news and misinformation; and the erosion of its credibility by mistakes made by newsrooms themselves and also by agents campaigning to disqualify media outlets. Those are issues connected in various forms, and they have increased greatly with the exponential growth of social media.
It must be recognized that the main value of the social media is that they give voice to diverse groups, of all political, ethnic, cultural and social trends. Those public digital spaces also help to raise issues that are often ignored by the traditional press.
However, social media outlets are often used as loudspeakers for voices that promote intolerance, violence, and spread false and distorted information. They are often used to destroy truth and facts – the raw material of journalism.
Society needs to know the value of professional journalism, and that it is based on finding facts by hard research and proper investigations. Society needs to know that journalism is an important instrument to protect and defend democracy and freedom of expression, with responsibility and correction.
At this moment of questioning, it is crucial that the media reaffirms the fundamental values of good journalism all the time, reporting facts in an impartial, independent, balanced and unbiased way. And emphasis should be given to report the facts.
Facts are so essential that CNN adopted the following editorial principle: “Facts First”. The statement declares:
Facts aren’t coloured by emotion or bias.
They are indisputable.
There is no alternative to a fact.
Facts explain things.
What they are, how they happened.
Facts are not interpretations.
Once facts are established, opinions can be formed.
And while opinions matter, they don’t change the facts.
That’s why, at CNN, we start with the Facts First.
As Founder & CEO of CNN Brasil, I decided to adopt those exact principles in our newsroom.
To reaffirm our commitment to the transforming power of journalism, we wrote down the full statement of the “Facts First” in the newsroom of CNN Brasil, where all our journalists can read it and read it again. The emphasis given to these principles constantly reminds each professional in the company of our commitment to independence, exemption, balance and to focus on reporting the facts.
The launch of CNN, the largest and most important news brand in the world, in Brazil in March 2020, will be a key contribution to strengthening journalism in our country. CNN Brasil will defend democracy, freedom of expression and the necessary economic growth in the country.
But always reporting the Facts First.