Posted by: kklist | March 8, 2017

Thursday Assignment!

Hiya Ethics!

Thanks to those of you who came to S.P. Sullivan’s master class on being an ethical investigative reporter Monday morning in the Journalism Hub. It was one of the best events in recent years—and thankfully the department shot video.

For those of you who could not be there, this is your assignment. First read Sean’s piece, “Locked Up, Fighting Back.”

Then watch the video, which is linked on the attached assignment, and answer the three questions posed, using quotes from the speech.

See you at 4 to talk about Sources. No class Thursday!



Posted by: kklist | March 3, 2017

Good Morning Ethics!

Here is our plan for the next few weeks:

Monday, March 6: S.P. Sullivan from will speak from 11:15-12:30 in the Journalism Hub about his recent piece on abuse of women in a New Jersey prison. Read “Locked Up, Fighting Back” here.

This is a joint presentation for Raz’s and our Ethics classes. Check in with me before the speech and pick up a response paper for Tuesday’s class for credit. There will be pizza!

If you cannot attend this speech, you’ll have another similar opportunity after break.

Tuesday, March 7: We’ll continue to discuss rape coverage and move into Sources. Be sure to have read the Source/Reporter Relationships readings on your syllabus. Short rape story analysis is due.

Thursday, March 9: No class. Happy Spring Break!

Tuesday, March 21: Diversity! Make sure to have done all of the readings on the syllabus.

Tuesday, March 23: Diversity discussion continues. Fairness assignment is due. Please note this second major assignment was distributed in class on Thursday—three weeks before its due date. Click here so you’ll have all of the links. Be sure to follow the directions carefully.

Hope to see you Monday!




Posted by: kklist | February 26, 2017

Trump Says: No Anonymous Sources!

Hiya Ethics,

At CPAC today, President Trump criticized the use of anonymous sources, even though his aides demand anonymity on a regular basis and even though he made a career out of being an anonymous source for years in the New York media.

The White House today also excluded the New York Times and CNN–the current leaders in hard-charging reporting on the Administration—from a White House gaggle (informal press conference).

And so it continues.

But don’t let it spoil your weekend!



Posted by: kklist | February 15, 2017

Wall Street Journal, Murdoch & Trump

Hiya Ethics,

This Jim Rutenberg column from Monday’s Times discusses the relationship between Rupert Murdoch and President Trump and how Wall Street Journal reporters think it might be affecting the paper’s content:

The latest news about the Murdoch-Trump axis is acutely problematic for the leadership at The Wall Street Journal — owned by News Corp. — as it seeks to quell a rebellion by a group of staff members who believe that the paper has held them back from more aggressively covering Mr. Trump, they suspect, under pressure from Mr. Murdoch.

And an important clarification: Those who recently left the WSJ include the deputy editor in chief, an editorial features editor, the senior deputy technology editor, the deputy bureau chief for health and science news and a senior national reporter, some of whom took buy-outs. But Editor in Chief Gerard Baker remains, and he defended the paper’s coverage of the Trump Administration in a recent meeting with staff:

Journal staffers have sought an audience with Baker amid internal concerns the paper hasn’t been as aggressive in covering Trump as competitors or as direct in calling out falsehoods, such as the president’s bogus claim about widespread voter fraud. Baker recently came under scrutiny after urging editors to avoid using the term “majority-Muslim” to describe the countries affected by Trump’s travel ban.

During the Monday meeting, Baker argued that the Journal’s role is not to be “oppositional,” as some news organizations appear to be, but to provide objective coverage. He said the paper shouldn’t be “dragged into the political fight.”

Baker suggested staffers unhappy with the Journal’s coverage should go elsewhere, according to sources.

Looking forward to your presentations on Thursday!



Posted by: kklist | February 8, 2017

Mongabay Panel Cancelled

Good Morning Ethics!

The Mongabay journalists have had to cancel their plans for the 4 p.m. Thursday panel at UMass because of the weather. They will reschedule another 4 p.m. Thursday session in the weeks ahead, so hang on to your assignment, which we’ll do at that time. The more classes we’ve had, the easier that assignment will be for you, so it actually works to our benefit to have the panel down the road a few weeks.

If we have class Thursday, we’ll continue our focus on Accuracy, discussing the remaining readings and exploring potential actions that could boost accuracy in journalism generally.

On nights before a big snowstorm, my daughters always wore their pajamas inside out to boost the chances that school would be cancelled. I’m just saying. It wouldn’t hurt to try it.

See you Thursday—or Tuesday!



Posted by: kklist | February 4, 2017

Accuracy Should Trump Speed

Hiya Ethics,

This is from Columbia Journalism Review today—more examples of bad reporting, which is an even bigger concern than fake news:

“Just after 3 p.m. [Wednesday], Washington reporters notified their Twitter followers that Donald Trump had left the White House aboard Marine One headed for an undisclosed location. The response varied from wild speculation to what’s become a standard refrain: “This is not normal.” Minutes later, further reports emerged. The president and his daughter were going to Dover Air Force Base to honor the return of the US Navy Seal killed in battle in Yemen.

An hour earlier, a Fox affiliate in Detroit retracted a story in which a man claimed his mother died in Iraq after being barred from returning to the United States because of Trump’s executive order. The man’s mother had, in fact, died in Iraq days before the ban was instituted.

These stories showcase the danger in prioritizing speed over accuracy and a juicy story over diligent reporting.”

As we start our discussion of Accuracy on Tuesday, we’ll talk first about fake news, so please look carefully at the first three articles on that topic. We’ll also talk about the most infamous plagiarizers and fabulists over the past several decades.

Happy weekend!



Posted by: kklist | February 4, 2017

Rumors Spread Like Wildfire

Good Morning Ethics,

Here’s an interesting Buzzfeed piece that documents the spread of rumors on social media after the recent Quebec City mosque shooting. A real concern is the naming of “suspects,” who were not suspects, based on information picked up from police scanners. You might recall a similar mistake in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.

And another huge concern is naming an individual as a suspect, when he actually was a witness and a hero.

In terms of corrections, note how some sites deleted these inaccurate posts, which makes sense when they’re possibly endangering lives. But others remain up.

We’’ll be moving to a discussion of Accuracy next week—so this is a jump start on that discussion.

See you Thursday!



Posted by: kklist | January 29, 2017

“zero integrity, zero intelligence” ???

Good Morning Ethics!

At the top of the New York Times today is a story on Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon calling the media “the opposition party.”

Asked if he was concerned that [Press Secretary Sean] Spicer had lost credibility with the news media, Mr. Bannon chortled. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “We think that’s a badge of honor. ‘Questioning his integrity’ — are you kidding me? The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.”

“You’re the opposition party,” he said. “Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”

Journalists reacted with alarm and defiance to Mr. Bannon’s comments. “What country are we living in?” Christiane Amanpour, the CNN correspondent, wrote on Twitter.

Christiane’s speech that we watched in yesterday’s class foreshadowed this. And you can use her quote at this weekend’s parties: “What country are we living in?” Keep track of responses and report back!



Posted by: kklist | January 25, 2017

Today’s News

Good Morning, Ethics!

Stephanie asked yesterday why the media don’t refer to President Trumps “inaccuracies” as “lies.” So this story in today’s Times caught my attention:“Trump Won’t Back Down From His Voting Fraud Lie. Here Are the Facts.”

We also talked yesterday about the importance of being WATCHDOGS, not LAPDOGS.  And this piece on Trump’s shutting down communication from federal agencies explains why we’ll have to work harder to make that happen. The Administration has sent “memos telling employees not to send out news releases or to create social media posts, blog entries or official website content, and to consult with senior officials before speaking to the news media.”

The Twitter posts of the social media division of the Badlands National Park broadcasting the threat of climate change became something of a cause célèbre on the left before they disappeared from the platform on Tuesday.

Some people enjoyed the story of the Badlands being bad.  Others say this is standard practice as new administrations get organized.  The question is: will these communication bans become permanent?

Finally, I’ve sent this Times column on the First Amendment to the Law class, but what happens in relation to press freedom is so relevant to all of us.  So please take a look if you have time.

See you Thursday!


Posted by: kklist | April 20, 2016

Readers Thoughts on Journalism & Ethics

Hiya Ethics,

James just sent me this AP story on a recent API poll of readers’ views on journalism and journalism ethics.

Journalism is held in low esteem because readers question its credibility, as measured by accuracy, fairness, sources and diversity, all of which are mentioned, and they also express skepticism about social media and advertising.

“Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias, fueled in part by Americans’ skepticism about what they read on social media.

The timing of this piece is perfect because it should make all of us feel that our time together in Journalism Ethics has been well spent:  we care about the same things our audiences do, and we care enough to study these issues and make them a priority.

I’ll send you an email later tonight with the short photo assignment, which is due Thursday.  And here’s a calendar for this week:

Tuesday:  Practice Interview with Matt Vautour, who covers UMass sports for the Hamp Gazette

Thursday:  Finish Photo discussion;  Discuss Interviews.  (If you’ve done your interview, you’ll share the most important thing you’ve learned. If you haven’t done the interview, you can tell us who you’re talking to and why.)

See you Tuesday!



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