Ethics Week this year (2005) was a cruel joke. With a
ton of unethical behaviors to choose from in print and broadcast --
deceptive stories, overt bias, slanted story selection, anti-gun-rights
parading, Minuteman distortions and hysteria, video news release fraud,
lapdog support of government spending projects, failure to achieve even
marginal compliance with the official Code
of Ethics, my local chapter (Phoenix) of the Society of Professional
Journalists featured this:
Ethical considerations of publishing
overly strong or insightful commentary
In other words, rather than look at any ethical lapses by the media, they
chose to question the public who manage to get letters into the opinion
section. Calling that a cruel joke is putting it too nicely:
Valley of the Sun SPJ:
"Igniting the Opinion Bomb"
Panel discussion on the ethics of the editorial pages
Save the date! "Igniting the Opinion Bomb: Are Some Views Too Incendiary
to be Published?" is a panel discussion program on a part of journalism
that deeply touches the public, but is rarely explored by journalists:
The opinion section.
This public forum will deal the ethical considerations of publishing overly
strong or insightful commentary. It is based in part on the Arizona Supreme
Court's current consideration of a case involving a letter to the editor
of the Tucson Citizen. Panelists will include editorial page editors and
stakeholders in newspaper opinion pages.
Questions to be discussed include: Where are the boundaries? If certain
views are out of bounds legally, does that leave the media with leaving
the tacit impression that such views don't exist? Isn't it better to put
such speech "out there" for all to see and for moral people
More information -- including a list of panelists -- will be coming soon
on the SPJ chapter's Web site, www.spj.org/arizona, and on its 24-hour
recorded telephone InfoLine, (480) 970-2314.
It's 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, at the Burton Barr Central Library,
1221 N. Central Ave. (between Roosevelt and McDowell), Phoenix, and sponsored
by the Valley of the Sun chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The event, in celebration of SPJ's annual Ethics Week, is underwritten
by a grant provided by the Indianapolis-based Sigma Delta Chi Foundation,
SPJ's fund-raising arm. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served.
Relax, it gets worse.
The SPJ national magazine, Quill, in its Annual Ethics Issue
Conflicts of interest a part of life
No matter how hard you try, avoiding perceived conflicts
is nearly impossible for journalists
... and ended with:
Get public officials to help you
10 tips that will help you work better with political figures
I especially liked:
The price of playing for pay
Accepting money from interest groups
is a good way to hurt your reputation
Ethics alter writing techniques
With a closer eye being paid to ethics,
writers dont have as much freedom as they used to
The cover story dealt with a reporter doing a piece about an escaped child
murderer. She accidentally found the criminalshould she just publish
the story and help him get away? OK, maybe this is an ethical dilemma.
But the chances of any other reporter ever facing this challenge is so
small it hardly merits mention -- especially with the stunning amounts
of bias and unethical tactics reporters are embroiled in every day. A
desire to truly address the outrageous ethical problems within the news
business is simply not there.