Calling facts "firewall" against bias, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw had some cautionary advice for the news media in his keynote to a Radio-Television News Directors Associations awards dinner in New York earlier this week, according to RTNDA.
As he prepares to hand over the Nightly News reins to Brian Williams following the election, Brokaw outlined some of the things he has learned "in 42 years as a journalis," including the following:
"Mistakes will happen. When they do, correct them, quickly and apologetically. Factual mistakes are obvious," he told a crowd that included embattled CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who was accepting RTNDA's overall journalistic excellence for CBS News, "however, there are also mistakes of perception and exaggeration, myopia and hubris. They're more difficult to acknowledge but no less important to your personal credibility and that of your organization. When you say, 'We stand by our story,' make damn sure your viewers have a clear, unambivalent idea of why you're standing by your story."
CBS has been criticized for initially standing by its National Guard 60 Minutes story, which was in part based on documents that have since been discredited. The Network is currently conducting an investigation into the story.
For his part, Rather "resolved to emerge from this trial as an even stronger news organization, so that we may continue to be worthy of your trust and confidence."
Also weighing in was World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings. Accepting the award for best newscast, he included some words of support for his competition. "Whatever people say about the liberal media--whatever that actually means--and whatever people say about Dan [Rather], some of which seems to me unnecessarily cruel and ugly, in 40 years the evening news has never been driven by ideology."