Articles about "Ethics"


Should student newspapers name fabulists and plagiarists?

Last October, Megan Card searched through more than two years’ worth of stories in University of South Dakota student paper The Volante. She was following up on a tip, looking for proof that a student on the paper was making things up.

Card, then the paper’s editor-in-chief, found that reporter Joey Sevin had cited several sources — 10 in all — that couldn’t be verified using university records.

“You read about people like Jayson Blair and you think, it could never happen,” Card said in a recent interview. “And then you go through a similar situation and you realize the kind of mentality people have to have to just go completely against everything you learned in journalism school.”

She fired Sevin. But then, she took another step: she identified him in an editor’s column.

Card’s decision to name Sevin puts her in one of two camps among student editors — those who say identifying fabricators and plagiarists is necessary to preserve a publication’s integrity, and those who warn that public identification can snuff out careers before student journalists ever see the inside of a professional newsroom. Read more

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N.Y. publishers mull more layoffs

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. More layoffs may come at New York publishers: “Industry executives are spending the month of October in closed-door meetings as they look for ways to tighten their belts even more.” (WWD) | Related: Time Inc. management “wants the ability to send 160 editorial jobs overseas,” Newspaper Guild of New York President Bill O’Meara says. (Capital) | Meta related: New owner Jay Penske‘s plan for WWD. (Capital) | Related sad trombone: “The joy we get from throwing magazines away seems like a bad sign for their future,” Laura Hazard Owen writes. (Gigaom)
  2. NBC News crew quarantined: They worked with freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo in Liberia and “Officials said the order was issued late Friday after the crew members violated an agreement to voluntarily confine themselves.” No one’s shown any signs of the disease.
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SPJ Approves New Code of Ethics

The Society of Professional Journalists approved a new Code of Ethics at the Excellence in Journalism 2014 convention in Nashville Saturday afternoon.

SPJ’s code of ethics attempts to speak to all media, and all who consider themselves to be journalists:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that democracy, a just society and good government require an informed public. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

The newly approved code attempts to address using anonymous sources in stories:

Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.

Question sources’ motives before promising anonymity, reserving it for those who may face danger, retribution or other harm.

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What breaking news reveals about your newsroom culture

Here’s what a lifetime in journalism has taught me: Breaking news reveals the true character of a newsroom’s culture and quality.

Spot news success happens in cultures with specific systems, skills, values, mindsets – and leadership.

In the healthiest cultures, when news breaks, here’s what staffers can count on:

  • We have a plan. We don’t have to scramble to figure out how to respond each time a big story breaks. Everyone on our team has an understanding of the key roles that need to be filled – both in the field and at the mother ship. We automatically call in and report for duty. We adapt the basic plan by situation and story, and we’re never caught flat-footed.
  • It doesn’t matter if our boss is on vacation. Deputies and team members are capable of making tough decisions and deploying resources because our leader routinely shares information and power. (No one has to say, “What would the boss do?” We know what WE should do.) We know who’s in charge and we know we’re all responsible.
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If you must unpublish, here’s how to maintain credibility

Gawker

Gawker notes that BuzzFeed has unpublished more than 4,000 articles recently, disappearing posts on the 8-year-old company’s website. Editors at news websites usually take articles down with great reluctance, because doing so undermines public confidence in your newsroom’s work. Why would anyone trust what you say today if you routinely take down pages that you can no longer stand behind?

RELATED: Fairness and credibility guidelines for unpublishing online content

Still, there are rare occasions when taking down a post is the best option. Here are some best practices:

  • Keep a blank page up, rather than making the entire URL disappear or redirecting to a homepage without note.
  • Leave the tags and searchable information, so folks can find what’s left behind and know for certain the information is no longer valid.
  • On that blank page, insert a precisely worded explanation from editors describing why the material had to be removed.
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Two students comfort each other during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The right way to publish a killer’s deranged manifesto

There’s a democratic value to publishing and referencing Elliot Rodger’s manifesto. The 22-year-old mass murderer left us a 141-page window into his deranged thinking.

But don’t just publish it, add context. Perhaps the most valuable thing journalists can do would be to get psychiatrists and psychologists to annotate the document. (Though perhaps you wouldn’t want to annotate it like this.)

Art Caplan, head of the bioethics division at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, advocates the same approach when considering the publication of medical research produced by Nazi doctors. By explaining the flaws behind information, we contribute to an improving body of knowledge while neutralizing the potential of perpetuating harm.

“Make it clear this is the raving of a devious and delusional mind,” Caplan said of Rodger’s manifesto. “Help us understand what compels someone to be so hateful and mysogonistic.”

Also, help the audience see what hate and misogyny really look like. Read more

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‘We spoke from the heart’: how a former journalist influenced coverage of his family members’ killings

Will Corporon left broadcast journalism nearly 20 years ago. Though he loved news, he felt compelled to make a career change. The 24/7 demands of TV kept him away from his family far too much, and he gravitated to insurance and financial services.

On April 13, when his father and nephew were killed outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, his news instincts kicked back in.

But not at first.

There was too much else to deal with: The what-the-hellish shock of a phone call from his brother-in-law Len Losen, as Will, wife Heather and five of their blended family’s children had arrived in Tulsa for daughter Alli’s cheerleading competition. The maddeningly incomplete early information — that the beloved man who his family called “Popeye” and his community knew as Dr. William Lewis Corporon — had been shot, but nothing further. The second call from Will’s mother Melinda, 20 minutes or so later, telling him his father was dead and no one at that moment knew the status of Will’s 14-year-old nephew Reat Underwood, who had also been shot and was rushed away by ambulance. Read more

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Can journalists prevent suicide clusters?

Suicides sometimes happen in clusters. Epidemiologists and suicide prevention experts have often claimed that media coverage is partially to blame for this. Thus that old-fashioned and often ignored rule: Don’t cover suicides.

Of course that rule came with a couple of caveats. Celebrity suicides were fair game. So too were suicides that happened in public places. Because of those carve-outs and others (if it’s really interesting, or if people are talking about it) the rule never really worked. The news media have always covered suicides, sometimes badly.

While suicide prevention advocates cite the potential for contagion in their effort to get newsrooms to change their standards, journalists, including me, have responded with skepticism. That’s because there has never been a conclusive study in a peer-reviewed journal that specifically tied contagion to media coverage.

Until now. This month a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal confirms that certain types of media coverage do indeed make suicide contagion more likely to happen, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Read more

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Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Poynter donor, writes on the Poynter ethics site about a New Republic article that asserts, using anecdotes, that ageism is rampant in Silicon Valley.

Newmark says he was taken aback, and that as far as he could tell, discrimination against older people is no different in SV than elsewhere in business.

But he also says: “If somebody asserts something factual, I want them to back it up with more than anecdotes, so that readers can trust it.”

So he turned to friends in the journalism world, including Dan Gilmor and Liz Spayd, for their take on the subject and asked: “When is anecdotal reporting enough to support broad conclusions without concrete data? This recent article on ageism in Silicon Valley seemed to paint an entire group of people based [on] a handful of examples. Is that fair?”

Read their answers.

 

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Reuters uses activists as photographers in Syria

The New York Times

Reuters employs rebel activists and “in one case a spokesman” as photographers in Syria, James Estrin and Karam Shoumali write. In interviews with photographers there, they say there are more issues with the wire service’s practices:

Three [photographers] also said that the freelancers had provided Reuters with images that were staged or improperly credited, sometimes under pseudonyms. And while Reuters has given the local stringers protective vests and helmets, most said that the stringers lacked training in personal safety and first aid.

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