Wednesday, September 10, 2008


"Transparency" and "full disclosure" are some of the first words I heard in my journalism education. Transparency is pretty obvious - be transparent about where you got your information, who you talked to (no anonymous sources or attributions to "government officials") and be balanced in your coverage: don't interview only one or even two sides of the story. Interview five different stakeholders.

Okay, I was prepared for this. But full disclosure is something entirely different. Transparency refers to your actions, and full disclosure refers to YOUR LIFE.

No bumper stickers on your car. I'm trying to get away with having a "Paddler" bumper sticker on the subaru right now... but what if I have to drive out and interview someone who is accused of polluting a local river? Even "Paddler" connotes a bias.
No membership in politically affiliated organizations. I can't stump for Obama. Or McCain.
It's not that we can't be involved in community activities, churches, or chess clubs. But we have to be upfront and honest about it.

I was thinking about transparency this morning because I was reading the blog of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, which is a coalition of state groups dedicated to open government, and headquartered here on Mizzou's campus.

Perhaps the media isn't as transparent as it ought to be, and we should work on that. But the government is definitely not as transparent as it ought to be, and we should work on that too. Check it out.

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