News Goggles: Conflicts of interest in news reports

Grades: 7-9, 10-12+

News Goggles annotations and activities offer news literacy takeaways on timely topics. These resources feature examples of actual news coverage, including full news reports, headlines, breaking news alerts or excerpts. 

This News Goggles resource originally appeared in a previous issue of The Sift newsletter for educators, which explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses journalism and press freedom topics and examines social media trends and issues. Read archives of the newsletter and subscribe here.  

A foundational principle of quality journalism is to avoid conflicts of interest – or even the appearance of such conflicts. A conflict of interest is anything that could impact the fairness, accuracy or independence of work produced by a journalist or news organization. Failing to disclose such conflicts, be transparent about them and factor them into news decisions can erode public trust and damage a news organization’s credibility.

In this edition of News Goggles, let’s turn our attention to this key journalism standard by analyzing a March 2, 2021, news report from the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York, on the controversy over CNN host Chris Cuomo’s coverage of his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Grab your news goggles. Let’s go!

 Featured News Goggles resource: These classroom-ready slides offer annotations and discussion questions related to this  topic.

Note: New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks also faced scrutiny following a BuzzFeed News report about his failure to disclose to readers relevant funding ties to a project he founded outside the newsroom and has written about in his columns. The Times reported on March 6, 2021, that disclosures detailing Brooks’ affiliation with the initiative and his resignation from this outside paid position will be added to columns that reference the project.

Related: 

Discuss: Why do standards-based newsrooms take conflicts of interest seriously? What are some possible conflicts of interest newsrooms and journalists face? How should news organizations handle potential conflicts of interest? 

Have feedback about this resource? Or an idea for a future News Goggles? Please share it with us at thesift@newslit.org. You can also use this guide for a full list of News Goggles from the 2020-21 school year for easy reference.


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