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Shadid Award

Goldman, Apuzzo, Bridis and AP are 2014 recipients of the Center for Journalism Ethics’ Shadid Award

Anthony Shadid talks with journalism students in 2010. (Photo by Bryce Richter)

The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will honor reporter Adam Goldman, Matt Apuzzo, Ted Bridis and the Associated Press with the 2014 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics.

Shadid is pictured above, talking with journalism students in Vilas Hall in 2010 (photo by Bryce Richter)

AP staff will be on hand to accept the award on Friday, May 2 at the center’s annual conference.

The AP team reported on the disappearance in Iran of Robert Levinson, an American businessman, whom they demonstrated was employed by the CIA even as the agency denied it to the White House, the FBI and Congress.

Jack Mitchell, chair of the Shadid award selection committee, says the committee chose the entry for the ethics award because of the AP’s responsibility in holding this “hot” story for three years until it was confident the story’s release would not cause harm to Levinson or to national security.

“Our committee was blown away by the quality of the entries in the 2014 competition. They would restore the faith of the most hardened cynic in the high purposes of journalism,” says Mitchell, professor emeritus at the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A graduate of the UW-Madison, Shadid died in 2012 while crossing the Syrian border on a reporting assignment for the New York Times. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his courageous and insightful foreign correspondence. Shadid sat on the ethics center’s advisory board and strongly supported its efforts to promote public interest journalism and to stimulate discussion about journalism ethics.

The award, which now carries a $1,000 prize, honors a journalist, or team of journalists, whose reporting on a specific story or series best exemplifies four key criteria: accountability, independence, and commitment to finding truth and to minimizing harm. In its first five years of awards, the ethics center limited nominations to journalists in Wisconsin, but this year expanded the scope nationwide.

The entry from Goldman, Apuzzo, Bridis and the Associated Press was chosen from five finalists. The four other finalists were:

-Pro Publica and reporter Michael Grabell for reporting on the plight of temporary workers in American companies

-Stephanie Mencimer for her story in the Washington Monthly verifying the truthfulness of Kellogg, Brown & Root, the defense contractor, when it denied that employees in Iraq had gang-raped a female employee

-Minnesota Public Radio for documenting child abuse by priests in the St. Paul diocese, which had held itself up as a model for other dioceses to follow

-USA Today for its examination of “mass killings” in the United States

“I’m confident that Anthony would be proud to have his name associated with the quality and courage reflected in the entries we received,” says Robert Drechsel, James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics and the center’s director. “He set the bar high for excellence in reporting, and clearly our contest entrants have too.”

The May 2 conference, titled “Surveillance, Security and Journalism Ethics,” will address the issues facing 21st century journalism in a world of Wikileaks, NSA sweeps, corporate cooperation, drones and data mining. Free registration is now open.

This post was updated to include the names of reporter Matt Apuzzo and editor Ted Bridis of the Associated Press.
fair use In the news

Getty Images changes the game by allowing free non-commercial use of some 35 million images

Getty Images website via British Journal of Photogrpahy

Reporting for the British Journal of Photography, Olivier Laurent details how Getty Images is introducing a game-changing policy that allows free non-commercial use for a large portion of its digital photography library:

The controversial move is set to draw professional photographers’ ire at a time when the stock photography market is marred by low prices and under attack from new mobile photography players. Yet, Getty Images defends the move, arguing that it’s not strong enough to control how the Internet has developed and, with it, users’ online behaviours.

“We’re really starting to see the extent of online infringement,” says Craig Peters, senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty Images. “In essence, everybody today is a publisher thanks to social media and self-publishing platforms. And it’s incredibly easy to find content online and simply right-click to utilise it.”

: : :

To solve this problem, Getty Images has chosen an unconventional strategy. “We’re launching the ability to embed our images freely for non-commercial use online,” Peters explains. In essence, anyone will be able to visit Getty Images’ library of content, select an image and copy an embed HTML code to use that image on their own websites. Getty Images will serve the image in a embedded player – very much like YouTube currently does with its videos – which will include the full copyright information and a link back to the image’s dedicated licensing page on the Getty Images website.

BJP offers this editorial note at the end of the article:  BJP will analyse the full impact of today’s news in a series of articles to be published later today and this week. Stay tuned.

Read the entire article here.

Updated 3.5.2014 10:30 CST:

There’s a lively discussion going on regarding the Getty Images policy change under a post by  Russell Brandom at The Verge.  Read it here.

Shadid Award

Nominations for the 2014 Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics now open

The University of  Wisconsin-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics seeks applications for the first national Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Shadid died in 2012 while crossing the Syrian border on a reporting assignment for the New York Times.  He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his courageous and insightful foreign correspondence.  Shadid sat on the ethics center’s advisory board and strongly supported its efforts to promote public interest journalism and to stimulate discussion about journalism ethics.

The center will award $1,000 to the journalist (or team) whose reporting on a specific story or series best exemplifies seeking and reporting truth, minimizing harm, acting independently, and remaining accountable.

“In its first five years of awards, the ethics center emphasized its Wisconsin roots and sought nominations from the state,” says Robert Drechsel, the James E. Burgess chair in journalism ethics. “We now are expanding nationwide, proud to recognize Anthony’s deep and broad impact on journalism and its ethical practice.”

Nominations are due March 3, 2014, and self-nominations are welcomed.

Nomination Guidelines 

  • We seek nominations for ethical decisions in reporting stories in any medium, including, print, broadcast, and digital, by those working for established news organizations or publishing individually.  We prefer stories reported in the 2013 calendar year, but will consider older stories if the ethical decision centered on a decision not to publish information that remains sensitive.

    The nominating letters should focus solely on the ethical decisions made in reporting the stories, organized around the four principles in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

    1.  Seek Truth and Report it.  “Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”

    How did the reporting surmount any barriers – political, economic, institutional, personal – encountered? How did the reporting ensure fairness while identifying truth?

    2. Minimize Harm. “Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.”

    What decisions, if any, were made to protect the interests of innocent individuals and of the broader community?

    3. Act Independently. “Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.”

    How did the decision-makers acknowledge and deal with their own biases about the story covered?  With pressures, if any, brought to bear from the outside?

    4. Be Accountable. “Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.”

    How did the decision makers acknowledge and respond to any criticism of their work?

    Letters of nomination must include:

    1. The name and contact information of the nominator and their relationship to the story, and the identity of the reporter or reporting team that produced the report.

    2.  A brief description of the story and a link to it on-line.

    3.  One or more paragraphs for each of the four principles in the SPJ code as it applies to this story.  Paragraphs may vary greatly in length, recognizing that all four principles are unlikely to be equally pertinent to any story, but each deserves at least a sentence and others deserve detailed elaboration.

    Nomination Letters should be saved in pdf format and attached to an e-mail to

    Deadline for submissions is Monday, March 3, 2014

[Nomination guidelines revised January 31, 2014]




Learning from Grantland’s Dr. V story: When reporting for a niche loses context in the grips of a network effect

Much has already been written about the ethical questions raised in the wake of Grantland’s January 15th story by Caleb Hannan entitled Dr. V’s Magical Putter.  The article itself has been updated to include a letter from Grantland’s editor as well as a guest opinion “detailing the problems with this piece as they relate to transgender issues”, both linked at the ropy of the story.

Writing for Gigaom, Matthew Ingram takes a forensic look at how the story — and the story of the story — unfolded, as well as what lessons may be learned form it.

Within a matter of hours after it was published and tweeted by its author, the Vanderbilt story was being posted and criticized by hundreds, if not thousands, of outraged readers — including many from the transgender community — who found Hannan’s treatment of Vanderbilt’s sexuality callous and offensive, and blamed him for what they saw as his role in her death.

Read Ingram’s entire piece here.


Testing school security, KSDK-TV reporter triggers lockdown

It may be a case of the end justifying the means.  If so, which end matters more:  Exposure of a significant security flaw at a local high school, or the stress and expense brought on by a 40 minute campus lockdown when the station did not immediately confirm its involvement?

Yesterday (Thursday, January 16, 2014), a NewsChannel 5 reporter for KSDK-TV tried unsuccessfully to gain entrance to four other area schools before walking into Kirkwood High School in suburban St. Louis.  The unauthorized visitor gave his name and mobile number to a school secretary before leaving.

Writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispactch, Jessica Bock and Kevin McDermott report that school administrators recognize the incident identified security deficiencies, yet also point out the impact KSDK’s delay in confirming its role in the lockdown had on students, staff and parents.

“We learned some things from this, but we are still dismayed that a call was not given after to let us know this was a test,” Cayce said. “We could have prevented the alarm to our parents, students and staff.”

The KSDK reporter initially gave his name and cellphone number and when the Kirkwood High secretary left to get the school resource officer, the man left the office, Cayce said. Administrators became alarmed when he asked the location of a restroom, left the office, but went a different direction.

When they called his cellphone, he did not answer, but his voicemail said he was a KSDK reporter. Cayce said she tried three times to confirm with the news station that the man was actually with KSDK with no success.

According to the Post-Dispatch article, KSDK-TV moved to head off criticism in advance of airing the investigative report during its 10pm edition, broadcasting a statement during early evening newscasts.

“This lockdown certainly was not the intent of our visit,” KSDK said in the statement, pointing out that the lockdown didn’t happen for an hour until after the reporter left. The station says the reporter “identified himself by name” to school officials. However, KSDK didn’t claim that he identified himself as a reporter.

“NewsChannel 5 will continue to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of our schools and your children within,” KSDK said.

The KSDK-TV report can be viewed here.

The entire St. Louis Post-Dispatch article can be read here.

Kristen Hare (@KristenHare) of Poynter also reports on the incident, under the headline “St. Louis TV station causes school lockdown, pisses off everyone.”  That article can be read here






In the news Uncategorized

Sorry, but making a few edits to a copyrighted photograph doesn’t give you the right to claim the image as your own.

Chris Lee photo theft

Editing and filtering images has never been easier.  Even those that find Photoshop too much of a challenge can dabble with image editing using simple tools built into apps like iPhoto and Instagram.   But making a few edits and changing the background shouldn’t mean you own the new image.  A St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer found himself arguing this point with a person he discovered to be appropriating his work, including the addition of a watermark crediting his own Twitter handle (below, from .

Chris Lee stolen image Twitter

On his site, Jim Romenesko details the back-and-forth between photographer Chris Lee and St. Louis Rams fan Alvin Lawrence over Lee’s purloined image of Rams player Robert Quinn.  Lawrence apparently claimed ownership of the image when he sent  a framed version to Quinn, shown at top in a screen grab from Twitter posted on   From Romenesko’s post:

A few days after Christmas, Lee saw an Instagram photo of Rams star Robert Quinn holding one of his photos that had been enlarged and framed. In the comments next to the photo, the Rams player wrote that “a guy specially made it for me but idk [I don't know] maybe he will do one for you.” Fans asked Quinn who they should contact to get their own framed prints.

A short time later, Lawrence – Mr. @stlramsphotos – tweeted: “I’ve gotten over 20+ offers from people to buy that Quinn photo off of me… Biggest offer being, $350. Wow. I’m just doing this for fun lol.”

It appears the Post-Dispatch as well as the AP, who also had an image appropriated by Lawrence, have yet to take any legal action though Lee is reportedly filing copyright infringement complaints with Twitter and Instagram on his own.

Read the entire story here.

In the news

Interactive storytelling reflects both new opportunities and new challenges for 21st century journalism

As is often the case each year in the last days of December, many retrospectives and lists are  being published this week.  We are treated to summaries, galleries, lists, and “the year in” stories.

Yesterday published a collection titled “2013: The Year in Interactive Storytelling.”  The lengthy post offers a portfolio that includes examples of multimedia stories, data visualization, explanatory graphics, breaking news, and visual and interactive features.

nyt1One can easily spend hours with this body of work.  To review it is to see both opportunities and challenges for journalists.  With entirely new ways of telling stories, we likely will face new ethical questions.  A review of these examples from the New York Times offer both examples of strong interactive work as well as inspiration for anticipating the evolving ethical challenges journalists face as we try to keep up with technology.

From frosty Madison, Wisconsin (currently enjoying snow and a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit), the staff of the Center for Journalism Ethics wishes you a very successful, productive and ethical new year.

View the New York Times’ 2013 interactive storytelling portfolio here.

+++Updated 12.31.2013 2:30CST+++

Writing on Groundswell, Josh Stearns (the journalism and public media campaign director at Free Press) offers his list of the best interactive storytelling for 2013.

As I created my 2013 list however, I saw much more data journalism and an increasing use of tools that engaged readers or rethought the basic flow of storytelling for a more participatory audience.

Read Stearns’ entire post here.


2013: The year of the Internet hoax?

Sometimes you just want to believe.   And sometimes you can’t help but believe.

Maybe it’s the kid inside all of us.  Maybe it’s the skill of a person who produced reality TV and knows how to lay out a hoax that can take in those of us who are self-described cynics.

In any case, this year seemed to be one with far too many Internet hoaxes to count.  As NPR’s Arun Rath reports, this year Internet hoaxes had us clicking for more.

A lot of people and some news organizations were fooled by Internet hoaxes this year. From that twerking girl who caught on fire to the TV producer going to war with the rude lady in seat 7A to the not-very-poor blogger who so eloquently wrote about living in poverty. So many of these stories have taken hold, 2013 has been called the year of the Internet hoax.

If you’ve been taken in, take heart. Grantland writer Tess Lynch says you are not alone.

People will always be susceptible to hoaxes.  Hopefully journalists can resist the temptation to advance them and instead follow their inner skeptic and ask some questions before helping give perpetrators their 15 minutes of fame.

Read the transcript here.

Listen to the audio story here.


In the news

For 60 Minutes, a dubious honor for a journalistic failure that won’t go away quietly as Poynter lists the best and worst media errors for 2013

Anyone having a passing acquaintance with current events probably knows that CBS News and its  iconic program 60 Minutes have had a rough year.  To further add to a year the network would like to forget, 60 Minutes’ Benghazi debacle has been named by the Poynter Institute as the “2013 Error of the Year.”

Writing for Poynter, Craig Silverman notes that it wasn’t just the fact that 60 Minutes, arguably the most respected television news magazine, got duped that won them this dubious honor.  As problematic, it only took other news organizations a few days to take the story apart and expose significant flaws.

CBS News was not alone.  Silverman goes on to list many other notable errors and corrections (some disturbing; others amusing).  Read the entire article here.

In the news

Nieman Lab: What will journalism look like in 2014?

The folks at Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab have rounded up several opinions regarding what we can expect for journalism in the coming year:

“To close out 2013, we asked some of the smartest people we know to predict what 2014 will bring for the future of journalism. Here’s what they had to say.”

The series, which has been updating daily, concludes Friday, December 20.  Read the many entries here.