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December 12, 2019updated 07 Nov 2023 5:49am

Sky News’ Alex Crawford: ‘Journalists must call out lies’

By Freddy Mayhew

Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford has said journalists who fail to call out lies told by elected public officials are “complicit” in “fairy story-telling” and that a “drastic” change is needed.

Crawford, who is a patron of the National Council for the Training of Journalists, called on journalists to challenge lies “however small”.

But in a blog post for the training body she said the news industry was currently failing in this “duty that never ends”.

“Somehow, it’s now perfectly normal if you’re a publicly-elected official, world leader or industry leader to tell lies,” Crawford said.

“You’re almost exceptional if you don’t. And if we as journalists do not call out these lies – every single time – then frankly we are complicit in this growing addiction with fairy story-telling.”

Crawford, who has recently reported on the conflict in Syria and civil unrest in Hong Kong, said the rules had “dramatically changed”, adding: “And so too must our approach.

“Tear up that old rulebook which said ‘a journalist must be impartial at all times’ and replace it with ‘a journalist must call out lies’. Because there is no impartiality about the truth. It is either true – or it isn’t.”

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She said journalists should be trying to work out how to “stop this insidious rot which is spreading like a virus”.

She went on: “We have to accept the responsibility that if the public, our readers and viewers believe the lies then it’s because we journalists are failing in somehow getting the truth across. And that is the harsh reality.

“We have to be much more clever folks. And maybe much more drastic.”

She went on: “Journalism is more important than ever now – and that means the training of journalists to turn them into outstanding, creative, questioning, courageous hunters of truth is at its most critical.

“Let’s not forget our collective role is crucial in correcting the wrongs and the untruths, uncovering the reality and perhaps most critical of all, calling out the lies – on every occasion – tirelessly.

“Staying silent, letting this one pass, failing to speak out – are not options.”

Picture: Sky News

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