Paul Steiger Delivers 2010 Ralph McGill Lecture

ProPublica Editor Paul Steiger Discusses Emerging Ethical Questions for Journalists
Mike Webb, ProPublica, Oct. 21, 2010

On Wednesday ProPublica editor-in-chief Paul Steiger delivered the 2010 Ralph McGill lecture at the University of Georgia. In his ProPublica story Mike Webb writes that “Steiger pointed to four distinct issues that journalists need to examine: the blurred line between presentation of fact and opinion; the quest for building a larger audience versus the need for journalism of substance and civic importance; the new business challenges facing the industry; and the need for greater transparency from news organizations.”

Near the end of his lecture Steiger said: “Today, the internet and digital technology provide enormously powerful tools for remaking journalism. The business models of the last 40 years of the 20th Century showered metro newspapers with monopoly profits and allowed their owners to provide high-quality journalism that actually contributed to those monopolies. Those models are irreparably broken. There is no going back to them.

In building our new models, we will need to sustain the ethical learnings that we built up in that period and carry them into a new environment of generally far tighter margins, with for-profit, non-profit and other paradigms standing side-by-side. It’s a challenge we will have to work hard to meet.”

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