Last U.S. News Council Standing: Q & A with John Hamer, Washington News Council

As you may have heard, we are keeping up the fight as the last fully operating News Council standing in America. This has perked some attention from others who do the kind of work we strive for, to create a world of honest, accurate, news.

The Art Science Research Laboratory was founded by the late Stephen Jay Gould (yep, the same one), and his widow Rhonda Roland Shearer in 1996, who now manages the site They’ve done some interesting work to promote scientific integrity in the news, including an extensive operation to fact check claims by popular anthropologist Jared Diamond that involved sending three researchers to tribal Papua New Guinea to uncover several mistruths about the indigenous tribe he reported on.

Rhonda gave us a call and spoke to Executive Director John Hamer to talk about our work at the News Council. Have a look at the full interview, and check out some of their media reports.

Here’s a little preview, where John talks about the challenges of running our operation:

“Keeping the doors open has been a challenge for 13 years, but we’ve managed,” Hamer said, attributing the group’s success to ”hard work and perseverance” and a solid start. ”You’ve just gotta plug away, do your best, ignore your critics, always be the bigger person, reach out to people, when you find supporters embrace them, when you find critics, be respectful, answer their concerns face to face….

I got a wide range of people and we were nonpartisan or bipartisan.  A lot of people thought we’d be a right wing media bashing organization or a left wing media bashing organization. And I said no, we’re going to be very even, very fair, bipartisan. I can tick down our founding board — 6 Democrats, 6 Republicans. They might not have agreed on a lot of things, but they agreed on the need for accurate, ethical media.”

Also, the original council members were half journalists and half business people, including Bill Gates Sr. “To have him sign on as one of our original council members, our credibility just went through the roof.”

“I think that it is a loss for American journalism that we’re the only one,” Hamer said.  “I think every state should have a news council like ours, or some kind of outside independent organization that can provide…oversight in a way. But we don’t police. We’re not a watchdog.”



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The Washington News Council maintains public trust and confidence in the news media by promoting fairness, accuracy, and balance. See more about the Washington News Council.