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Everyday Ethics

NEWS

Should The Washington Post have withheld sensitive details about an ISIS bomb plot?

When The Washington Post broke the story this week that President Trump shared highly classified intelligence from a U.S. ally with Russia, not everything the reporters knew made it into print. Halfway through the story, this paragraph referring to the ISIS plot revealed by Trump appeared: “The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, … Read More
NEWS

Chicago TV makes right call by running violent Facebook video cautiously

For the past 24 hours, Chicago media have been cautiously running gruesome video of four people tying up, cutting, beating and taunting a mentally disabled man while broadcasting the ordeal live on Facebook. The video is hard to watch. One of the captors slapped the victim repeatedly and used a knife to cut the victim's clothing then cut a plug … Read More
NEWS

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 … Read More
NEWS

Bill Simmons' ESPN suspension and the challenges of editing star talent

Whether you think Bill Simmons is the latest sacrificial lamb at ESPN, or that his suspension is really theater in the vein of professional wrestling, there are important issues behind the suspension that we could all pay some attention to. Too much content, too little editing: From podcasts to blogs to social media posts, there is a fair amount of … Read More
NEWS

Ray Rice video sparks ethics questions

After a series of famous journalism scandals in the early 1980s, I was asked to kick-start an ethics program at the Poynter Institute. I felt fully prepared to be a writing teacher, but not an ethics one. So what would I do? I read what I could; studied professional codes; consulted ethics scholars; became pals with the influential bio-medical scholar … Read More
NEWS

Egg donation, first conceived as personal essay, becomes investigative report

When Sarasota Herald Tribune business reporter Justine Griffin set out to donate her eggs, her editors asked her to consider doing a personal essay. What she discovered during the year-long journey is that fertility industry has some serious conflicts of interest and that nobody advocates for the health of egg donors. As her approach morphed from a personal essay to an investigative package, Griffin had to deal with her own conflict of interest. She was part of the story. Read More
NEWS

9 best practices for publishing provocative opinions in a polarized world

Clashes between professional provocateurs and the masses, like the recent criticism that rained down on Washington Post columnist George F. Will over  #survivorprivilege, are on the rise. See #checkyourprivilege. Remember the reaction to the equally appalling Richard Cohen column that suggested a gag reflex is a normal reaction to learning the white mayor of New York is … Read More
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