News organizations will fail if they're not truthful with viewers - and that means coming clean when a mistake is made, CNN's chief executive said.
Apologies should be done as loudly and emphatically as news organizations promote their best work, CNN Chairman Tom Johnson said, two months after the network's wrenching retraction of a story alleging American use of nerve gas in the Vietnam War."I urge you to give the correction and the apology and the retraction the same emphasis that you gave to the original report," Johnson told several hundred journalists at the Radio and Television News Directors Association convention on Thursday. "Do not bury the correction, as many newspapers do.
"The public expects it and I think it is the right thing to do, as painful as it is," Johnson said. "They will trust you more if you don't try to hide it."
CNN apologized on July 2 for its investigative report after an internal probe concluded there was not enough support for the charge that Americans used deadly sarin gas against war defectors in Laos. Two producers fired for their role in the story have strongly defended their work, and CNN faces a long legal battle with former soldiers who felt they were defamed.
There is some indication that CNN's reputation has escaped substantial damage. A Gallup poll taken two weeks after the apology found that 66 percent of respondents said they trusted CNN news, statistically no different from the 64 percent who said the same thing in March.
CNN no longer allows correspondents to narrate reports if they haven't participated in the reporting, he said.