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.
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Ask the ethicist: Should local TV anchors agree to conditional interviews with the president?

Whether he's gabbing with Zach Galifianakis between two ferns or talking to Marc Maron in his garage, President Obama is used to orchestrating unconventional interviews to get his message out. His latest effort came earlier this week, when he invited several journalists from local TV stations to the White House for one-on-one interviews. Six local anchors spent … Read More
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Ask the ethicist: Should Arianna Huffington sit on Uber's board?

Arianna Huffington was announced as the newest member of Uber's board of directors today, sparking questions about whether the appointment would conflict with her role as editor in chief of The Huffington Post. In statements to CNN, The Verge and others, The Huffington Post sought to allay concerns that her new job would influence coverage at the online … Read More
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Ask the ethicist: What's worse — hacking into Donald Trump's voicemail or using his discount for a Gucci dress?

Gawker has served up a cocktail of potential ethical quandaries just in time for happy hour. On Friday afternoon, the Manhattan-based outlet posted three recordings purportedly stolen from Donald Trump's voicemail by a group of anonymous hackers. Although Gawker was unable to verify the identity of the voices, they supposedly belong to three prominent journalists from MSNBC: "Morning Joe" … Read More
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Ask the ethicist: Should top editors oversee business initiatives?

Tribune Publishing, whose holdings include the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, announced this morning that it's combining the editor and publisher jobs at its major daily newspapers. This shakeup runs counter to a long-held tradition in the newspaper industry, which typically splits the responsibilities of running the newsroom and overseeing business initiatives into two separate jobs. Although … Read More
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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
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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
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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
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I was on an all-female panel on a news show for the first time — and it rocked

(Photo from Matthew Keefe, via Flickr) As an expert on media ethics, I’ve been a frequent guest on radio and television programs for more than a decade. But this week was a first for me: When I joined the CBC’s morning news show, The Current, to talk about the ethics of which name to call the terrorist … Read More
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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