17th February 2010, 9:36am
Rippon stresses principles journalists need to regain public trust
angela rippon Honesty, accuracy and integrity are the three most important words in the journalist’s lexicon, Angela Rippon told students at lecture at the University of Lincoln.

Miss Rippon, who became the BBC’s first regular woman newsreader in 1976 and was awarded an OBE for her services to broadcasting in 2004, advised students: “Be honest in your dealings with whoever you meet. Be accurate in the facts you put into your story, and have integrity in your motives – and in everything you do.

“Those three words should be printed above your desk or computer screen. They are a tripod of values on which to build your career – a solid foundation of principles on which to establish a peerless reputation.”

In a recent MORI poll on public trust, doctors had come out on top – politicians, not surprisingly, grubbing along at the bottom – but journalists below even them, she told the meeting, organised by the Lincoln School of Journalism.

“What a terrible indictment on our profession,” she said. “But I am proud to have on my passport that I am a journalist and broadcaster. Because I know that for the most part journalists can be and, indeed, should be a potent, powerful and influential force in society – especially when they do their job well.”

She said reporters could be especially effective when working on behalf of the consumer whether it’s trying to sort out a grievance or perceived injustice by banks, the health service, shops on the high street, the government or large corporations. “There are always in our communities individuals who, on their own, feel helpless and need the support of a more powerful voice to help them fight a wrong or social injustice.”

Consumer journalism – in its broadest sense – was one area where journalists were able to re-build the public’s trust. “We can make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Professor John Tulloch, Head of the Lincoln School of Journalism, said: "She made a supremely articulate and passionate argument for the crucial role of the consumer journalist in championing ordinary members of the public in their disputes with the powerful.  Most striking was her stirring suggestion that journalists could only rebuild trust in the media on the basis of a commitment to honesty, accuracy and integrity in their professional conduct. Mightily impressive."
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