Boing Boing reported on this, linking to the Pressthink post, and these are the kinds of outlets that lead to wider coverage.
Most of the new handbook is pretty standard stuff, but the concept of "fair to the truth" is bound to get attention, and it's is worthy of any attention it gets - particularly in a world where ideas about the media, authority, context, and the value of information are all in flux.
From the handbook:
...our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the age of digital information places the burden of context in the hands of the critical consumer. I see NPR's concept as a way of placing their services in the middle of that context-sorting process.
NPR is acknowledging that the information is all out there, and the older paradigm's attempts to report all points of view does not help consumers - the news has become a series of opinionated people telling us what to think about an event.
Instead, NPR would like to add a lens to their reporting that acknowledges how news maker's often seek to spin a story.
Critics will howl, as is their want. They'll view this as an attempt to allow editorial views into the news content - where it doesn't belong. But a critical consumer of news knows that there's always been an editorial view in our news content. The people who decide what news gets covered are making editorial decisions (btw, did you know we've been at war for the past 9 years?)
So now we have this new concept: fair to the truth. I'm interested to see if the concept gets traction outside of NPR.
I have long since grown tired of watching political bickering being portrayed as news. I hope this is a shift away from that.
I just hope it doesn't change the format of Wait, Wait...