Posts by Kelly McBride

About Kelly McBride

Kelly McBride is a media ethicist and Poynter's Vice President for Academic Programs. She was a daily newspaper reporter in the Northwest for 15 years. She is a leading expert on covering sexual assault, suicide and mental health issues, plagiarism, and the connection between an ethical press and a strong democracy.

Ask the ethicist: How should Bloomberg News cover Michael Bloomberg?

Within hours of a recent New York Times story that revealed multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg was considering a run for the nation's highest office, journalists began wondering how his candidacy would affect Bloomberg News, the media arm of the company he founded. Now, less than a week after the original report, they're beginning to get an answer. The company's newsroom, … Read More

Ask the ethicist: Should news organizations participate in media blackouts?

Journalists across the United States rejoiced this morning when they learned that Jason Rezaian, the Tehran bureau chief of The Washington Post, would be set free in a prisoner swap with Iran. But the good news was followed by the revelation that several prominent news organizations knew about the prisoner exchange in advance and decided not to report … Read More

The problem with Rolling Stone's El Chapo interview isn't Sean Penn. It's his editors.

If you’re an editor about to send a famous and sympathetic writer to interview one of the world’s most notorious villains, here’s how you might prep him: First, drill him on his assumptions and make sure there is an intellectual argument elsewhere to back him up. Then, you’d likely remind him that his loyalty should be with his readers, not … Read More

Yes, reporters should go into the apartment, but don't broadcast it live

As tawdry as it looked to have a barrage of reporters trampling through the residence of the deceased couple responsible for this week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, the journalists who walked through the door did the right thing. But the journalists who broadcast the invasion live were irresponsible. As a reporter, your primary obligation is to gather information … Read More

Why it's important to name the shooter

Kristen Sterner, left, and Carrissa Welding, both students of Umpqua Community College, embrace each other during a candle light vigil for those killed during a fatal shooting at the college, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Public officials and advocates for victims often ask journalists to refrain from naming the individual behind a heinous act. This … Read More

Breaking news best practices: Reaching and interviewing witnesses and victims of trauma

Tracking down witnesses and victims of traumatic events is the work of journalism. We serve the public interest by documenting events thoroughly and accurately. Here are some suggested best practices for finding sources: Use shared documents to coordinate with everyone you work with. It’s unnecessary to have more than one person from a news organization reaching out to the … Read More

Poynter to host conversation on covering social justice issues

AJ+ producer Damu Bobb uses a mobile rig to report from Baltimore. (Photo by Devin Allen) As editors reorganize and identify new beats or topics, social justice reporting is gaining ground as an area of coverage. In the San Francisco Bay area, where social justice is a simmering topic, newsrooms are developing creative approaches. The Center for Investigative Reporting … Read More

Commentary: Gawker crosses line with story on magazine exec

The Gawker story about a top magazine official’s recent attempt to hire a porn star for $2,500 for a few hours of sex is a classic case of invasion of privacy with absolutely no redeeming social value. From Gawker’s story, we see the executive being mature and even considerate of his would-be sexual partner. We see Gawker’s source reneging … Read More

Why the columnist who writes about race in Spokane got scooped on Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal, stands in front of a mural she painted at the Human Rights Education Institute, offices in coeur d'alene, idaho In this photo taken July 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)Shawn Vestal, a newspaper columnist in Spokane, Washington, had just cleared his decks to start checking out Rachel Dolezal’s story when he got scooped last week. But … Read More

Advice for summer interns: Don't screw this up

Kelly McBride and her daughter Molly in New York. (Photo courtesy of the Kelly McBride) My eldest got her dream internship. She starts next week. Here's the letter I wrote, with help from my friends. Dear daughter, Congrats on getting an internship at a place where you already love the journalism. I know you got called as an alternate, … Read More

Bill Simmons and ESPN will both be fine, and so will sports fans

ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network's documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons' contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File) This breakup between ESPN and Bill Simmons was inevitable. Fifteen years ago … Read More

2 things newsrooms everywhere should do to cover the cops and the community

There are two very important things newsrooms should do in every community to document the relationship between the police and the community. Analyze the data and policies of your law enforcement agencies What’s the racial breakdown of the force? Do officers have to live in the city or county where they work? How many excessive force complaints were filed over … Read More

How can Rolling Stone recover?

No one was fired. The Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus” disappears from their site, replaced by the Columbia Journalism School's report. But how will the magazine recover from this massive, public failure? Even people who don’t regularly read Rolling Stone are aware that the magazine’s story about a 2012 gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity … Read More

Here’s what Facebook knows about ethnic minorities on social media

There were a few relevant insights for journalists in a SXSW session Friday that was primarily designed to motivate advertisers and marketers to target Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians on Facebook. If you want to get relevant content in front of a diverse audience on social media, you have to understand the nuances of how that audience is different from the … Read More