How to produce trustworthy news without “objectivity”

A new playbook for strengthening and transforming journalism

Many forces have eroded public trust in journalism over the years. Additionally, the traditional standard of “objectivity” has lost its relevance for a new generation of journalists and news consumers. This report and accompanying “playbook” offer actionable guidelines to help news organizations restore a belief in the value of fair, fact-based reporting — trustworthy news. We provide a fresh vision for how to replace outmoded “objectivity” with a more relevant articulation of journalistic standards.

With support from the Stanton Foundation and the help of a talented team of students, we were able to interview more than 75 news leaders and other practitioners and draw insights from across print, digital and broadcast news organizations. We hope you find these useful in your efforts to strengthen and transform journalism.


About the authors

Leonard Downie, Jr., the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, started at The Washington Post in 1964 as an intern and rose through the ranks. He held the role of executive editor from 1991 through 2008. During his tenure at the Post, he investigated and led coverage of some of the most significant events of the 20th century.

Andrew Heyward, a Research Professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and senior advisor to the new Center for Constructive Communication at MIT, is an award-winning broadcast news producer and expert on the changing media landscape. Among many newsroom roles, he served as President of CBS News from January 1996 until November 2005.

About the Cronkite School

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs and has received international acclaim for its innovative use of the “teaching hospital” model. Rooted in the time-honored values that characterize its namesake — accuracy, responsibility, objectivity, integrity — the school fosters journalistic excellence and ethics in both the classroom and in its 13 professional programs that fully immerse students in the practice of journalism and related fields. Arizona PBS, one of the nation’s largest public television stations, is part of Cronkite, making it the largest media outlet operated by a journalism school in the world. Learn  more at

About the Stanton Foundation

The Stanton Foundation was created by Frank Stanton, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest executives in the history of electronic communications and one of the television industry’s founding fathers. Dr. Stanton served as president of CBS for over 30 years. He created the first televised presidential debate, between Kennedy and Nixon, which is widely viewed as having had a major impact on the outcome of the election. The Foundation supports areas in which Frank Stanton wished to continue his philanthropy beyond his lifetime. Those areas include protection of First Amendment rights and creating a more informed citizenry.

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