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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

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
NEWS

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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