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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.
NEWS

The New York Times killed the public editor job just when it's needed most

No, New York Times! Not the public editor! Why, with trust in news organizations at an all-time low, would you cut the one position dedicated to holding your journalists to account in public? We need you to reconsider. We know you can pay for it. Thanks to a big increase in subscribers (whom the public editor represents!) your … Read More
NEWS

Fox News's retraction is a woefully inadequate response to its colossal mistake

The family of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich may have applauded Fox News’ “retraction,” but as retractions go, Fox’s effort was lame. It didn't include a correction, which would have gone a long way toward showing that the network learned from its mistake and was truly contrite. Corrections are inevitable in journalism. When done well, they serve a purpose … Read More
NEWS

Don't call Steve Stephens 'The Facebook Killer'

We in the media love nicknames for notorious people. Often, these names are associated with a place or thing that has a random connection, like The Boston Strangler, The Green River Killer or The San Bernardino Shooters. This time it's "The Facebook killer," the shorthand description for the actions of Steve Stephens, who killed an elderly Cleveland man at random, … Read More
NEWS

Trump's speech should remind journalists that tone matters

The news cycle this morning is breathing a collective sigh of relief: President Donald J. Trump can do the presidential thing. But as they reflect on the president's bearing, journalists should also turn their powers of analysis back upon themselves. That feeling you get, when you hear the president and his staff repeatedly take a hostile tone with the press? … Read More
NEWS

Should you broadcast Sean Spicer’s press conference?

Given Sean Spicer’s first White House press conference, where he said things that were demonstrably false and refused to take any questions, many news organizations are wondering whether they should broadcast today’s press conference, currently scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Eastern. The call is easy: Broadcast it. There are many valid reasons that television stations opt to … Read More
NEWS

BuzzFeed drops a Trump bombshell, irresponsibly

As CNN reported on a private intelligence report claiming that Russia has dirt on President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday night, BuzzFeed published the basis of the report, a 35-page dossier, online. Both CNN and BuzzFeed pointed out that the documents have been circulating since at least October and that its claims are unverified. Related teaching: Sources, Verification and … Read More
NEWS

Journalists, it's time to get back to work

Sometimes the worst thing happens. And it’s no secret that for many journalists and just over 47.6 percent of the American public, the election of Donald Trump signifies the worst thing. His election draws back the curtain on a world that looks very different today than you thought it looked yesterday. This world is a place where at least half … Read More
NEWS

Trying to cover drug addiction? Don't share photos of passed-out victims

Police in Hope, Indiana this week released a photo of a 25-year-old mom who overdosed on heroin with her 10-month-old child in the backseat. They are following a precedent set in September by cops in East Liverpool, Ohio, and by a shopper at a Family Dollar Store in Lawrence, Mass. The photos and videos go viral on … Read More
NEWS

WANTED: Public Editor, Facebook

Editor's note: On Monday, Poynter's media ethicist, Kelly McBride, proposed an out-of-the-ordinary idea: A public editor for Facebook, someone hired by the social network to write about the company and its controversies from the public's point of view. As Facebook continues to deal with the fallout from an anonymously sourced report indicating its Trending Topics feature suppressed conservative … Read More
NEWS

Ask the ethicist: Is it right for Facebook to suppress conservative news?

Gizmodo ignited a social media firestorm today when it reported that curators for Facebook's "trending" section regularly put the kibosh on right-leaning news stories. The story, attributed to anonymous sources, was notable in part because of Facebook's status as a media behemoth that directs a firehose of traffic at news organizations every day. But it also made waves because … Read More
NEWS

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
NEWS

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
NEWS

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
NEWS

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
NEWS

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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