Last remaining U.S. press council closes next month

On, Craig Silverman writes about the end next month of the Washington News Council, the last such body to conduct independent reviews of consumer complaints about news coverage.


“Who can oversee ethics on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms?” (John Hamer, who co-founded the WNC and serves as its Executive Director and Board President.) said in the announcement. “We’re all deluged daily with factoids, sound bites, rumors, opinion and commentary. Citizens just have to make up their own minds about who can be trusted in the media today.”

The death of the WNC is not surprising, but it does highlight the need for new and better ways to hold journalists and media outlets accountable for what they report.

Some of this sounds very familiar. has lost its funding.  Who’s going to continue the work we’ve done in the past 8 years?

Our models were different:  We focused only on health care media messages. Every day we offered constructive criticism provided by independent experts.  I’ve traveled around the globe offering training to health care journalists.  We didn’t hold hearings; we posted our reviews on the web.

What is the same is the loss of the independent watchdog.

In Silverman’s article, David Boardman, once the executive editor of The Seattle Times and now the dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication, said,  “The council’s greatest value is far more about education and community conversation than it is about accountability.”

Silverman wrote:

“we still lack a framework whereby media organizations willingly and meaningfully participate in a process of accountability. (Some organizations employ ombudsmen; but that role is on the decline in North America.)

Scrutiny and criticism of the press abound; but they aren’t necessarily the same as accountability.”


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