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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ethics in the News – Oct. 20

In the wake of a report about the extent of philanthropic money given to education journalism, ethicists are discussing what the proper relationship between targeted money and journalism should look like.

A new blog looking at education at the The Washington Monthly revealed that the Gates Foundation gave about $7 million per year to news organizations who cover education. Many other organizations give money to nonprofits like NPR and for-profit news like Seattle Times for targeted coverage, the report said.

The blog’s author told Poynter that though Gate’s funding is targeted toward education issues that aren’t covered in everyday news, the issues it supports such as quality teachers aren’t controversial.

Some of the issues of giving for targeted journalism are controversial, though, The Nonprofit Quarterly pointed out. And, while money may not come with stipulations about the perspective of journalism, it certainly could have an influence.

Stephen Ward, former director of The Center for Journalism Ethics, said the ethics of accepting donations to fund journalism are tricky when nonprofit journalism organizations were emerging.

He offered that journalism organizations should have explicit codes for dealing with gifted money for news. He wrote that adherence to the code should available to the public and adherence to the code should be scrutinized by the public.

“Declining public confidence in news media will be extended to these new journalists on the block if nonprofit leaders do not put transparent ethical policies into place,” Ward wrote.

In other news

Center for Journalism Ethics in the News

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