Updates on ethical decision-making in newsrooms big and small, written by Poynter’s Kelly McBride, Bob Steele and colleagues.


Shirky: ‘We are indeed less willing to agree on what constitutes truth’

Here’s what the “post-fact” literature has right: the Internet allows us to see what other people actually think. This has turned out to be a huge disappointment. When anyone can say anything they like, we can’t even pretend most of … Read more


Friday, Sep. 28, 2012

Journalism has an originality problem, not a plagiarism problem

Professional journalism isn’t facing a plagiarism problem. It’s facing an originality failure.

And you can’t blame the Internet. Our originality breakdown results from many pressures — the overwhelming volume of writing incessantly pushed out into the digital space, the … Read more


Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012

Dirty Politics: View live stream of Poynter Kent State ethics workshop

Poynter’s eighth annual ethics workshop with Kent State University begins at 9:15 a.m. This year’s theme is “dirty politics.” Speakers include:

  • 9:15: Poynter’s Kelly McBride and Ellyn Angelotti
  • 10: PolitiFact’s Bill Adair is part of a panel on “The role
  • Read more

Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2012


‘Patchwriting’ is more common than plagiarism, just as dishonest

The Columbia Spectator writer fired for plagiarizing from The New York Times earlier this month was actually employing a dishonest writing technique that is common on college campuses and among journalists.

It’s called “patchwriting.” And it’s not quite plagiarism, but … Read more


Friday, Aug. 24, 2012

Questions to consider before publishing autopsy reports

Ever since Dale Earnhardt crashed and died on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001, autopsy results have been tricky material for journalists. Florida journalists sued the state to release photos from Earnhardt’s autopsy, so that independent … Read more


Thursday, July 12, 2012

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 1999, file photo, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, right, poses with his defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky during Penn State Media Day at State College, Pa. In a statement made Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, retired Penn State assistant coach Sandusky, who faces child sex abuse charges in a case that led to the firing of Paterno, says Paterno's death is a sad day. (AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File)

How to cover the Freeh Report on Penn State, child sexual abuse

Louis Freeh’s powerful condemnation of Penn State officials is bound to set off a barrage of equally powerful reactions among those who live with the scars of childhood sex abuse.

And there are a lot of people who live with … Read more


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The questions we wish CNN and FOX would answer

Having deconstructed many bad decisions with newsrooms across the country, I’ve been trying to analyze what we can learn from what went wrong Thursday at both Fox and CNN, which initially misinterpreted the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Read more


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


What’s wrong with Jonah Lehrer plagiarizing himself (at least 13 times)

Here’s why Jonah Lehrer was wrong to recycle his words and ideas in at least 13 instances uncovered by three different people (make that four) and then by The New Yorker, which is adding Editor’s Notes to stories with … Read more


Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2012

ESPN reporter Michael Smith was one of the staffers to post pictures of them wearing hoodies.

ESPN should find ways to cover the Trayvon Martin story rather than become part of it

ESPN.com‘s Jemele Hill did a very nice, tight column this week explaining how the lives of professional athletes are connected to the life and death of Trayvon Martin.

Contrast that to ESPN’s bouncing back and forth on whether its talent … Read more


Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

How ESPN published “Chink in the Armor” Jeremy Lin headline & what’s happened since

The rise of Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks’ Asian-American star, has been one of 2012’s feel-good sports stories. But it’s come with an unwelcome undercurrent: racial references by fans, columnists and TV personalities that have ranged from innocent-but-cringe-worthy to … Read more