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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ethics in the News

Brian Williams started Monday at an anchor desk at MSNBC. It’s his first on-camera job since his suspension and later removal from the NBC evening news desk for ethical violations.

Williams’ return has been mostly well received. Ratings of his inaugural day’s pope coverage were the second best daypart of the year. The L.A. Times suggests that audiences are willing to trust Williams again if they are watching his show. But, as Poynter’s Al Tompkins wrote back in February, a lot of Americans didn’t recognize Williams’ face in polls before the story about his lies and exaggerations emerged. Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik told CNNMoney that he believes Williams should not return to television journalism because violating the “truth” principle is too grave of a sin to overcome.

The return of Williams coinciding with the pope’s visit to the East Coast spurred plenty of jokes: The hashtag #brianwilliamspopestories was a thing. And, during a recap of pope news coverage, on “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver poked fun William’s return. But, the joke felt light hearted enough.

In other journalism ethics news this week:

Center for Journalism Ethics in the news:

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