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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Join us Friday April 5 for our 5th annual ethics conference: “Who is Shaping the News?”

Save the date!  Our 5th journalism ethics conference will be Friday, April 5, 2013 at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery in Madison, Wisconsin.  It will be our biggest conference yet.  This year, a distinguished and dynamic group of journalists and scholars will explore “Who is Shaping the News? Academics, Corporations, Critics.

Award-winning investigative reporter Lowell Bergman will deliver our keynote speech, and we will present this year’s Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics. This years panelists include CBC producer Ira Basen, media historian James Baughman, CNBC senior correspondent Scott Cohn, CJE’s Katy Culver, journalism law expert Robert Drechsel, media scholar Lew FriedlandAndy Hall of WisconsinWatch, Lorie Hearn of iNewssource, investigative journalist Brant Houston, NBC senior VP Greg Hughes, media consultant and Kent State professor Karl Idsvoog, journalist Mark Pitsch, media scholar Sue Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jan Schaffer, USA Today’s Owen Ullmann, and journalist and scholar Lee Wilkins. Last year’s practical breakout sessions were a popular addition.  This year we’re expanding the breakouts to include a workshop for student journalists, and a practical ethics session staged by the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.



So, why should anyone care about Who Is Shaping the News?  

Because the strength of a democracy depends on public access to impartial information, and impartial information is becoming scarce as media systems fragment and revenue sources shift. The quality of information the public receives has a direct impact on the health of any democratic system.  And even though the profession of journalism is in a state of great change, journalists are still important conduits of news and information.

Increasingly, journalists work in non-traditional settings. One setting is within large corporations who do “brand journalism” – publish stories to promote their brand.  Or, corporations may sponsor “custom content” in traditional newsrooms, where journalists produce stories on a topic specifically funded by a corporation. Another setting is the non-profit newsroom, often funded by politically ‘neutral’ foundations but sometimes funded by foundations with clear political aims.

These developments and trends raise serious ethical issues transparency and independence in journalism. Supporters of these new trends argue that good journalism can be done in many types of environments, and the economics of media today requires new models for producing journalism. Detractors argue that journalists in such environments must agree to editorial restrictions which amount to self-censorship, so they are not free to write “without fear or favor.”  Journalists, they worry, are losing their freedom to inform the public in a full and independent manner.

Join us on Friday, April 5th to delve into these important matters.

Registration will open in March — check back for updates.

Questions? Write to us at