Ethics

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Lying to sportswriters: Should one give a darn?

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted lying to the press in during a press conference following Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted lying to the press in during a press conference following Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

There seemed a refreshing candor when the NBA coach admitted last week that he had deceived an army of sportswriters.

“I lied,” Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr later said about comments involving his starting lineup for Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Should one care?

Kerr is a bright, well-liked former NBA player and a University of Arizona graduate. His father, Malcolm Kerr, was an academic murdered by Islamic terrorists in 1984 while he was president of the American University of Beirut in Beirut.

The son had been asked about his starting lineup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and, he said later, felt he had three alternatives. Read more

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No, CNN says, it won’t ‘host’ Clinton event with Jake Tapper

USA Today reported Wednesday that CNN show host Jake Tapper was erroneously listed as a “’speaker” at a Clinton Global Initiative event in Denver next month.

On Thursday, CNN further amended its relationship to the gathering.

Following the newspaper’s inquiry to CNN, the designation of “speaker” had been removed from the GCI website. However, Tapper remains as a moderator of a panel, “The Business Case for Investing in America’s Workforce.”

On Thursday, I brought to the apparent initial attention of CNN that the panel was further listed as a “GCI Conversation Hosted by CNN.” That suggested a distinct partnership between the network and the Clinton organization.

CNN indicated the reference is wrong. It said Tapper is an unpaid moderator at a gathering that will also include his interview of former President Bill Clinton for on-air use. Read more

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George Stephanopoulos’ donations to Clinton hurt his credibility

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes her opening remarks at a candidates a 2007 forum. At left is the forum moderator, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes her opening remarks at a candidates a 2007 forum. At left is the forum moderator, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

George Stephanopoulos appears to be one of the 2016 presidential campaign’s early losers.

Politico and the Washington Free Beacon disclosed Thursday that he’d given $50,000 (later amended by him to be $75,000) in contributions to the charitable Clinton Foundation. He didn’t disclose that fact to either his employer or viewers even as he reported on the Clintons and the controversial foundation.

He thus did not reveal a thing when recently interviewing Peter Schweizer, author of a critical and disputed — by the Clintons and their allies — book about the foundation’s donors and Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Read more

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NPR standards editor voices disapproval of Affleck episode on PBS

NPR

An episode of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” that glossed over the slave-owning heritage of movie star Ben Affleck is not in keeping with standards at NPR, Standards and Practices Editor Mark Memmott wrote Wednesday.

Let’s keep this simple: The people we interview, the sources we use and the supporters who give us money do not shape or dictate what we report.

NPR neither produces nor distributes “Finding Your Roots,” although the two organizations are the among the most prominent public media organizations in the United States and are both represented by the same corporate sponsorship organization, National Public Media. WGBH, where much of PBS’ content is produced, is an NPR member station.

The controversy surrounding Affleck’s appearance on “Finding Your Roots” began after a cache of documents stolen from Sony Pictures Entertainment and published on Wikileaks revealed that the actor requested that the show omit the fact that one of his relatives owned slaves, according to the Los Angeles Times. Read more

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The Tampa Bay Times should have alerted authorities earlier

A police device rolls toward a copter device, right, that landed on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

A police device rolls toward a copter device, right, that landed on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The Tampa Bay Times was wrong.

That is my reluctant conclusion after reading the story “Ruskin flier eludes Capitol air security.”  The story, well known by now, concerns Doug Hughes, an eccentric postal worker who committed an act of civil disobedience by flying a “gyrocopter” onto the West Lawn of the nation’s Capitol.

As I studied the coverage last night and today, I imagined a different headline:  “Times coverage shows unsteady man committing dangerous act.”

Ben Montgomery, a reporter I admire, wrote the story.  I saw him on the Today Show arguing in a brief sound bite that it was not his job to blow the whistle on a stunt like this one, in which Hughes planned to deliver letters to each member of Congress complaining about the evil influence of money on American politics. Read more

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Journalism and public shaming: Some guidelines

Public shaming has been in style for a while and journalism plays a significant role. It’s time to examine the ethics of this.

Public shaming, or openly humiliating someone as punishment for a certain behavior, is inherently a form of intimidation. It’s a strategy where we shine a light so hot and bright on a subject that he or she suffers, or at the very least shuts up and goes away.

It’s often perceived as positive because it exposes what many people consider bad behavior such as when BuzzFeed aggregated a bunch of racist tweets after an Indian-American woman won the Miss America crown.

To be sure, there is a certain nobility in shaming public officials who try to keep public documents from the public, or in exposing a greedy corporation that abuses its lowest paid workers. Read more

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How long will Brian Williams be out of the anchor chair?

Good morning. I’m subbing for Kristen today. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Brian Williams cancels Letterman appearance

    Over the weekend, "a source close to Williams" said the NBC anchor will not keep his scheduled appearance on "Late Show with David Letterman," the same show where he erroneously claimed he was aboard a helicopter that took enemy fire. (CNN) | On Sunday, Politico's Mike Allen suggested that appearing on the talk show might be a "high-profile, controlled way for Williams to clear the air." (Politico) | On Saturday, the embattled "NBC Nightly News" anchor announced he would take a hiatus from the show for "several days," adding that he planned to return and "be worthy of the trust" of his audience. (Poynter) | Meanwhile, media reporters and critics are contemplating the scandal's affect on Williams' career.

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5 tips for getting people to go on the record

Michael Kranish, the Boston Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief, was able to get classmates of Jeb Bush to talk on the record about their recollections. (Screengrab from the BostonGlabe.com)

Michael Kranish, the Boston Globe’s deputy Washington bureau chief, was able to get classmates of Jeb Bush to talk on the record about their recollections. (Screengrab from the BostonGlabe.com)

With the presidential primaries just a year away, we’ve entered the stage of the permanent campaign that will include many foundational profiles of the potential candidates.

Among the perennial challenges of such stories: sources reluctant to go on the record with critical remarks or recollections about someone who might end up as leader of the free world.

The Boston Globe published a 4,100-word version of the genre in its Sunday edition: a profile of Jeb Bush’s high school years at Phillips Academy by Michael Kranish, the paper’s deputy Washington bureau chief.

It’s the sort of look back at the bad-boy-years often diminished by blind quotes that readers have no way of verifying (and that I’ve been guilty of relying on myself way back when). Read more

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The ethics of hacked email and otherwise ill-gotten information

Sony and Aaron Sorkin both got it wrong. There are journalism ethics to mining emails hacked by someone else. But the question is not whether or not to mine them, but rather how.

Journalists generally agree that it’s appropriate to use ill-gotten information in the public interest, whether it’s the Pentagon Papers or a massive email hack.

But good intentions and execution are two different things. The latter involves a solid process rooted in journalistic values — because public interest is a moving target. Some newsrooms claim public interest when information is merely interesting, funny or salacious. The article about Channing Tatum’s goofy email might fall into that category.

BuzzFeed’s look at Maureen Dowd’s practice of allowing prior review, which Dowd denied, could be in the public interest because Dowd is a powerful columnist at a powerful newspaper that influences public opinion. Read more

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Video: The implications of the Rolling Stone UVA rape story

Roy Peter Clark, vice president and senior scholar for the Poynter Institute and reporter Lauren Klinger discuss Rolling Stone’s blockbuster article on rapes at the University of Virginia and the decision to publish the controversial article and the decision to apologize to the readers for possible misinformation.

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