Deep down Onion-skinned’s archives, we found this old post about blind items from January 20, 2007 (“Blind items are not journalism”).
Given the reactions generated by our previous post (“SunStar’s Bzzzzz: Gawad Junquera“), we thought we should re-post this:
One of the more cowardly aspects of newspapering is the “blind item”. Every day, Cebu dailies dish out rumors involving unnamed personalities allegedly caught in some unverifiable fiasco, written almost always with an unmistakable smirk.
The trouble is, in doing so, they’re smirking at the very core of their professional ethics.
After all, what purpose does the “blind item” serve? If the item true, it is media’s responsibility to report it, without equivocation, without resort to innuendo.
If the item is true but cannot find print in the news pages because it involves the private lives of public figures, or because no public interest is served by publishing it, then printing it — whether in the form of news or a blind item — breaches the ethics of journalism.
If it is written as a blind item because its truth cannot as yet be verified, then it is pure laziness to print the rumor and pass it off as a newspaper item, instead of getting one’s hands dirty trying to get confirmation.
Newspapers demand the guarantees of press freedom. But every day, they are proving that they do not need those guarantees, because they skirt responsibility for their statements simply by resorting to the blind item, for which there is no need to discover the truth, to strive for accuracy, or to bear the responsibility for, and the consequences of their actions.
That, you must admit, is cowardice. No wonder no one has ever won the Pulitzer Prize for writing blind items.