Posted by: kklist | February 22, 2018

Fairness Next Week

Hiya Ethics,

Here’s Margaret Sullivan on “the right-wing sliming of Douglas High Students”:

We’ll start our discussion of Fairness on Tuesday. From your assigned readings, please look at your text, NPR and Sullivan.

The line between journalism and activism is something we’ll also discuss in this part of the course, so this from Columbia Journalism Review is interesting:

MSNBC’s [Nicolle} Wallace went on to describe the Parkland students as “activists.” As [CJR’s Alexandria] Neason and [Meg] Dalton point out, the student journalists are “treading the increasingly murky line” between those roles. Almost every journalism textbook says activism and journalism are incompatible. But the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas are busy ripping up that textbook and writing a new one. And some journalists would do well to note how deftly they’ve combined sensitivity and persistence with a clear message.

Have a great weekend!



Posted by: kklist | February 21, 2018

The Big Questions

Hiya Ethics,

While we’ve been dissecting journalism’s villains in class, I’ve been reading about some of the bigger questions we discussed as the semester began. Here are two interesting updates from Poynter today.

First Marty Baron, editor of the Washington Post:

A SOUL, AND A SPINE: “Journalism may not work as it did in the past,” Washington Post editor Marty Baron tells an audience at Oxford University. “Our work’s anticipated impact may not materialize. The public may not process information as it did previously.” So these days, Baron concludes: “We need more than a soul. We also need a spine. I am pleased to report that we have that, too.”

And then Facebook. This has been my fear all along:

MORE FACEBOOK DOOM: The social network didn’t mean to wreck the news media, argues Mathew Ingram in CJR; it may have happened by accident. “It’s one thing to break a product, but if you move fast and break democracy, or move fast and break journalism, how do you measure the impact of that—and how do you go about trying to fix it?” Ingram asks. He gets a disquieting response by the NYT’s former longtime digital head, Martin Nisenholtz: “I think there’s a possibility that they just don’t know what to do” about these larger problems, says Nisenholtz. “I think there’s a chance they don’t have the people in their organization or the DNA to even understand what is going on or what to do about it.”

Thursday in class, we’ll hear from the Brian Williams team, talk more about Mike Daisey’s messing with Ira Glass, then discuss students live tweeting from the Broward County School and how to handle that. We’ll end with an in-class assignment on the nine Accuracy presentations we’ve heard.

See you Thursday!



Posted by: kklist | February 16, 2018

Ethics of School Shootings Coverage

Hiya Ethics,

Given that the Broward County shooting is the 18th so far this year in which students have died, please read what follows on the ethics of covering this tragedy.

From CJR:

One notable difference from coverage of past school shootings was the prevalence of social media postings from students still in the building. Videos of students sheltering in classrooms as gunshots echoed from offscreen provided a terrifying window into the experiences of those trapped in the middle of the chaos. Several outlets also shared text messages that students sent to loved ones.

From Reliable Sources, here are several reporters’ reactions:

“Learned helplessness”
“Today is a mass shooting day in the newsroom, which is a thing that exists,” Chris Hayes said on his Instagram Wednesday evening. Later, while hosting his MSNBC broadcast, he remarked to a guest that “I have covered probably 20 of these at this point. I was in Las Vegas. I was in Orlando. I was in San Bernardino.” His point: “There’s a kind of learned helplessness. You feel like you’re sitting in a car in neutral and gunning the engine as you watch this transpire.”

Think about this:

Lulu Ramadan of the Palm Beach Post tweeted on Wednesday evening, “I envy reporters who only covered an out-of-the-blue mass shooting once upon a time. I’m 23, at a community paper & #Stoneman is my third.”

What strikes me about the question of how to cover a situation like this one is: all the answers are in the SPJ Code of Ethics. The magnitude of the situation might be different, the platforms on which coverage appears might be different, but the answers are the same. Here’s a thoughtful look at those answers from Poynter’s Al Tompkins.

Please read and hang on to this so we can discuss it next week, when we’ll see five presentations. The ones today were THE BEST EVER. They’ve set a high bar for the five remaining!

Enjoy your weekend!



Posted by: kklist | February 16, 2018

Ethics of Covering Live Tweeting

Good Morning!

This is from Poynter this morning:

Aidan’s tweets also attracted the attention of the media, and he was immediately bombarded with requests to use this photographs, prompting this observation from Brody Logan, a sports anchor from Washington, D.C.:

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 5.21.19 PM

There were also the predictable false tweets, so it was helpful to see posts like these from Jane Lytvnynenko, a BuzzFeed reporter who specializes in fact-checking and debunking mis- and disinformation:

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 5.01.24 PM

She later wrote a story compiling all of the fake tweets and explaining their origin.

We’ll talk about this next week after the Accuracy presentations. See you in a few!



Posted by: kklist | February 13, 2018

Sullivan on Facts

Good Morning, Ethics,

I’ll talk briefly this morning about this short Margaret Sullivan piece in the Post, stressing the importance of fact-based, accurate reporting in light of Rob Porter’s departure from the White House. She calls it “bulletproof, evidence-based journalism.”

See you soon!



Posted by: kklist | February 8, 2018

How to Save Local News

Good Morning, Ethics!

Farhad Manjoo has a great piece in today’s Times: “How to Save Local News”:

Have your reporters cover stuff that no one else is covering, and let them ignore stuff that everyone else is covering. Emphasize coverage that’s actionable, that residents deem necessary and valuable for short- and long-term planning — especially an obsessive focus on housing and development, transportation, education and local politics.

Package it all in a form that commands daily attention — probably a morning email newsletter — and sprinkle it with a sense of community, like offline and online networking events for readers.

How will you fund all of this? This is the most important part: Shun advertising. Instead, ask readers to pay for it with real money — $5 or $10 a month, or perhaps even more.

This goes directly to our recent discussions, so check it out!



Posted by: kklist | February 7, 2018

Accuracy Team Assignments

Hiya Ethics,

Please see Accuracy Teams for your team assignments and further instructions.

Hope you’re all enjoying your snow day!



Posted by: kklist | February 5, 2018

Sustained Outrage!

Good Morning, Ethics!

Here’s another Valentine to local news reporting in today’s New York Times piece on the bankruptcy of the Charleston Daily Mail, whose unofficial motto is “sustained outrage.”

The Gazette-Mail has long stood out, developing a reputation for critical coverage of politicians and industry alike, fueled by an unofficial mantra of “sustained outrage,” a favored phrase of its liberal former publisher, William E. “Ned” Chilton III.

The paper also has a long history of rigorously reporting on the coal industry.

After the recent death of Paul Nyden, a longtime investigative reporter who had exposed dangerous and dishonest practices in the industry, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, was unequivocal about his impact.


Gazette-Mail staff writer Ken Ward Jr.“West Virginia is safer for our coal miners and healthier for our communities because of Paul’s work,” he said in a statement.

That penetrating reporting has continued under Ken Ward, Jr., considered by some to be among the nation’s best coal reporters.

The newspaper’s doggedness was recognized last year with the Pulitzer that Eric Eyre won for exposing drug companies that had flooded West Virginia with painkillers while flouting state law. His reporting about a small-town pharmacy that received nearly nine million hydrocodone pills over two years was cited by several members of Congress last year when the House Energy and Commerce Committee opened an investigation into the practice.

See you Tuesday, when we’ll talk about Ethics on Facebook (No One Said Ever), including a new effort by early Facebook employees to fight back against the adverse effects of what they built. Read about it here.



Posted by: kklist | February 2, 2018

TRONC Paper Struggles in LA

Hiya Ethics,

As I was listening to John Oliver eviscerate TRONC in class this morning, I was reminded of a major New York Times story this week: The Los Angeles Times “Unravels As an Ambivalent City Shrugs.” It’s been all downhill for this once-great paper since it was purchased by the Tribune Co.—now TRONC—in 2000.

The turmoil at The Times in recent months — with upheaval in the editorial ranks and a publisher suspended over sexual harassment allegations — is a reminder of the slow decline of a newspaper that had long been a cohesive force in Los Angeles civic life.

Sad, but true.

Next week, we’ll talk about news on Facebook on Tuesday, then move on to Accuracy on Thursday. You’ll get your first big assignment—and we’ll also start doing some problem solving in class for credit. You won’t want to miss it.

Happy Weekend!



Posted by: kklist | January 31, 2018

Politifact on State of the Union

Hiya Ethics,

We’ll be talking soon about Accuracy, so I wanted to share Politfact’s accuracy check of President Trump’s SOTU speech:

Trump’s statements cycled through every Truth-O-Meter rating, except for Pants on Fire. We tallied two False statements, four Mostly False, one Half True, three Mostly True, and one True.

Thursday’s class (Feb. 1) will focus on the significance of newspaper reporting and Tuesday’s (Feb. 6) on Facebook, so you can split the readings accordingly.

See you soon!



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