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Recap: Truth, Trust and the Future of Journalism

Truth, Trust and the Future of Journalism brought together more than 200 journalists, scholars, advocates and community members to discuss how we have gotten to historically low levels of trust in news media and how we can ensure a free, courageous and responsible press in times of extreme partisanship.

The Center for Journalism Ethics’ annual conference focused on critical issues facing journalism today: fake news, conspiracy theories, disinformation, public mistrust and possible solutions in what some are calling a “post-truth” era.

Keynote conversation with Margaret Sullivan

The Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan served as the keynote speaker, kicking off the conference with a Q & A with CJE director Katy Culver. Discussion spanned everything from the news balance of the last election cycle, to the value of the term “fake news,” to discussion of Sullivan’s previous role as Public Editor at The New York Times.

“The words ‘fake news’ are almost useless now because they have come to be used for anything that anyone doesn’t like … It’s actually a way of undermining the truth because if anything you don’t like, factual or not, can be called fake, how does the truth survive that?” – Margaret Sullivan

Photo by Melissa Behling

The Responsibility & Challenge of Truth: Fact, Fiction and News

Photo by Melissa Behling

Ken Vogel of Politico addressed the concern over major news organizations’ reliance on confidential sources. Vogel noted the importance of those relationships in reporting, but also said he thinks the best journalism happens when journalists are digging up information themselves, rather than working their insider sources.

In response to comments that much of the coverage surrounding Donald Trump is negative, UW journalism professor Lucas Graves Graves said reality is not always balanced, pointing to the industry emphasis on fact checking as an example that fair isn’t always balanced.

“It sort of suggests that there was a golden age when politicians didn’t lie as much and when people read the paper really closely and they were scanning for all the facts and making careful decisions. And we know that’s not true.” – Lucas Graves on why he is uncomfortable with the suggestion that we are in a  “post-truth” era

Blind Beliefs? Conspiracies, Hoaxes and Disinformation

Photo by Melissa Behling

Joanne Miller, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, also criticized the notion that we’re living in a post-truth era. She explained that human reasoning is not developed to identify the truth but rather to ensure our survival. She researchers what she calls a phenomena of losing side psychology: When a highly knowledgeable individual’s political party loses an election, she explained, they may become more distrustful of media and political institutions and become predisposed to believe conspiracy theories in an attempt to rationalize the loss.

How to build back public trust was a point of debate between Deborah Blum, a professor in MIT’s science writing program, and Charlie Sykes, a prominent conservative talk show host.

In recent years, Blum noted how science journalism has shifted to reporting the narrative supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, rather than giving equal balance to two sides, citing the Los Angels Times‘ decision to eliminate Op Eds rejecting climate change as one example.

But Sykes warned that it’s when there isn’t space for these discussions in mainstream media that people turn to alternative outlets like the Breitbart News Network where they can find content that validates their worldviews, leading to further fragmentation and mistrust.

“You can do the best reporting in the world, but unless you can find a way to restore that credibility, break through that chrysalis somehow, it won’t even register.“- Charlie Sykes on the importance of credibility in a highly partisan climate

Where Do We Go from Here? Solutions in an Allegedly Post-Truth Era

Photo by Melissa Behling

Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post’s Fact Checker said she is a proponent of bringing fact checks to the audience in the spaces they’re already in. Lee said presenting fact-checks via Snapchat has been a successful tactic to reach younger audiences. She added that the Post’s fact-checking newsletter is the organization’s fastest growing newsletter as well, growing organically between reader shares. Lee’s takeaway? Be creative and reach people where they are – don’t expect them to find you.

At Stanford University, Dawn Garcia said Knight fellows are innovating solutions to major issues in journalism, addressing everything from challenges with data journalism, emerging technology, audience engagement and diversity, news ecosystems and business models.
Current journalism business models were of concern to Marty Kaiser, Senior Fellow of the Democracy Fellow, as well. But he said he sees hope in the changes he sees newsrooms making in response to financial pressures.


The Role of Today’s Journalists: Q&A with Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins is a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute and author of “Aim for the Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters.” We talked to Tompkins about the role of journalists in today’s non-stop, fast-paced media environment.


CJE: What is the role of a journalist today?


Tompkins: Part of what we’re trying to do is verify. We’re trying to understand. Our job isn’t to persuade. So sometimes that involves testing the truth; sometimes it involves just reporting the facts as we find them. There’s no one way to do our job, but our central question is, “What does the public need to know in order to make sense of this?”—in order to figure out not just what happened but why it happened and what’s going to happen next and who benefits and who suffers because of it. A good chunk of what we do every day is just sense-making.


Journalists are generally not in a popularity contest either. Certainly, they have a business that they have to endure but the fact of the matter is people generally don’t appreciate information that doesn’t jive with what they already believe. It’s not convenient to get served up a menu of stuff that is not what you want to hear. And for Trump supporters particularly, there’s darn little that they want to hear because it doesn’t fit with why they supported the guy and they still do in very significant numbers, popularity polls notwithstanding, there are significant numbers of people in the United States who completely report Donald Trump’s point of view. And if there is a criticism I would level, it is we seldom hear from those people except in a marginalized, nut-case kind of way. They have a voice in the same way that critics do. And that voice ought to be understood.


Should journalists do anything differently to improve public trust?


It depends on what they think their job is. If they believe their job is to be an antagonist, then they should change because just being an antagonist is not being a journalist. The job of the journalist is to report, verify and put into context what’s going on regardless of whether or not you agree with it; regardless of whether it fits your needs; regardless of whether it hurts or harms you personally. Will you fairly, accurately, thoroughly report things that do not benefit you or what you personally believe in? That to me is the deciding factor as to whether you are a journalist or just a provider of information or opinion. Fairly, accurately, thoroughly, even-handedly report information with which you personally disagree.


How does the non-stop news cycle affect journalists’ coverage of government?


Narrow and deep reporting is almost always more valuable than wide and thin reporting. The what of a story is what moves across social media. The why, the how, the what happens next and what does this actually mean takes a journalist to figure out.


I would say where you should spend your energy is less in chasing the bathrobe and more in chasing the immigration story or the confirmation story. So one of the questions that we can have is – what do people need to know versus what might they graze? If all you do is serve the people who are information-snackers, you’re not really fulfilling their needs. You’re only fulfilling the momentary appetite of what’s easy to pick. Part of what we have to become is an essential part of people’s civic life. And I use that word civic intentionally because one of the things that I think we are lacking at the moment is a sense of civics; a sense of what it means to be a good citizen. And part of what it means to be a good citizen is to be selfless to your community, to be sure that you’re thinking about the long-term and short-term effects of what you’re doing and not to be simply self-serving.


What is one thing that journalists can do differently when covering politicians?


One of the biggest criticisms I have of how we cover politicians and politics is that we penalize people for changing their minds based on facts. Let me give you an example. Let’s say for example for 20 years, I’ve been a global warming denier but now, faced with overwhelming scientific evidence, I say, “You know what, I think the evidence now is so large that I have to be convinced that there is such a thing as climate change and that people are doing something to contribute to it.” You would eviscerate me. You’d call me a flip-flopper. There was a time I think, although I could be wrong, that we thought of people who were willing to change their minds based on evidence as enlightened. But now, the only way that you can be elected is to be intractable, regardless of the evidence. We as journalists propagate that by calling them flip-floppers, by pointing out that they changed their minds and by showing that they have been inconsistent on something. As people evolve their thinking based on the evidence I don’t think they ought to be penalized for it.


Some argue that journalists calling out false statements or using the term lie hinder their objectivity. What are your thoughts on this?


There are lies; but to me, that’s a pretty strong word. Lie implies intent and in order for you to know intent, you really have to have evidence. Just because they say something that the facts don’t bear out, doesn’t mean they intended to do that. For example, I don’t think Kellyanne Conway intended to mislead people into believing there was a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I just don’t think she knew. So you can call it whatever you want—misinformation, bad information, lack of information—but I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that she attempted to lie on that; I just don’t think she was informed.


Religion, politics and Trump’s inauguration

In exploring the political fractures of the United States at the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration, one of the challenges for journalists is to understand the religious fractures that are part of today’s divisions.

Understanding the religious dimensions of America’s divides is not an easy task, especially when journalists treat it as a sideshow instead of something woven into the fabric of how Americans line up on public issues.

Yet if journalists are to be true to their profession and help the public gain a greater understanding of the forces that shape our nation, listening both to the voices of faith and the growing number of those who reject formal religion is integral to telling the American story in the second decade of the 21st Century.

The religious fractures will cut across the political fractures in some very public ways around the Inauguration. At the inauguration itself there will be Protestant and Catholic leaders offering prayers, a rabbi, no Muslim.  The selection includes two preachers of what is known as the “prosperity Gospel” – if you believe, riches will follow. One has been a vocal critic of Islam.  (You can read about the inaugural prayer line-up here.)

Meanwhile, leaders of the Christian left will be in streets, protesting the rhetoric and policies of the new president. (You can read about the efforts of the religious left here.)

But these are just the voices of some of the leaders. Underneath are the actions of people from the various religious traditions.

During the election, one view was that religion really didn’t matter much. Donald Trump certainly did not have any deep connections to a faith community, Hillary Clinton sometimes cited her Methodist roots, but religion often seemed marginal to their debates.

Others thought religion mattered a lot – including Trump’s campaign team. Recall his scathing attacks on Muslims as potential terrorists, his courtship of leaders of the religious right, his talk about religious liberty and bringing back “Merry Christmas” to the public square.

Some argued that this was the election that would mark the end of white, Christian America.  Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, released a book with that title in July about how the changing demographics of the nation were changing the politics as well – the increasing racial and ethnic diversity, the growth in the number of people who would not choose any religious affiliation. He noted that white Christians only account for 45 percent of the U.S. population.

But it turned out that when the votes were counted, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump – the most for a Republican candidate since George Bush in 2004. Some 52 percent of Catholics voted for Trump, four points more than for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Yes, Trump has not exactly led what would be described as a model Christian life. Yet voters who claimed Christianity as their tradition – especially white voters – were willing to put that aside because they thought Trump would address their concerns about the economy, about terrorism, about abortion.

In response, other parts of the Christian spectrum have begun to react more vocally. Muslims are forming new alliances.  Even though a majority of Catholics voted for Trump, the bishops have been particularly active in seeking protection for immigrants.

So watch for the cross-currents of politics and religion in the months ahead. Those intersections may not often be the dominant story, but to understand both the way the politics play out in the halls of government and in the public reactions, spending time exploring the ways people’s spiritual beliefs affect their political views will help define whether the divisions of 2017 grow deeper or begin to ease back.

(One good resource for journalists exploring these issues is the current edition of ReligionLink, a project of the Religion News Foundation. It contains many links to information as well as to experts on a wide variety of subjects related to covering religion in the new administration.)

Phil Haslanger, who earned his MA in journalism at UW-Madison in 1973, is a long-time Madison journalist and now is pastor of Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg. He is a former board member of the Religion News Service and the Religion News Foundation.

Three duties in a time of Trump

In the turmoil of a Trump election victory, and the dawn of a robust right-wing American government, it is time to do journalism ethics with utmost seriousness.

Journalism ethics is not a set of formal rules that students are forced to memorize and then find these ideals inoperable in the workplace.

Journalism ethics is the heart and soul of why you are a journalist, and why it matters.

Today, this soul-searching begins with a large question: What sort of journalism does America need to meet the great political challenges ahead?

What is the point of journalism practice in a time of Trump?

My answer is: to protect liberal democracy by embracing three related duties:

  • the duty to advance dialogue across racial, ethnic, and economic divisions
  • the duty to explain and defend pluralistic democracy against its foes
  • the duty to practice the method of “pragmatic objectivity”

The duties work together to promote an egalitarian, plural, tolerant, democratic polity, which should be the political goal of public journalism. The duties work against a populist democracy dominated by a “strong man,” where freedom is freedom for the most powerful and abrasive.

The duties oppose the untrammeled, vengeful will of intolerant citizens who see the election as a “winner take all” victory for their side.

trump time

One cannot discuss the point of a practice in the abstract. Journalism ethics begins with some perception of the media’s social context. What is this context?

We live in a time of danger for moderate, liberal democracy with its divisions of power, freedom of expression, protections for the rights of all citizens, and the empowerment of minorities despite the displeasure of traditionalists.

Trump time has been a long time coming.

It has been long prepared for by: bad education, American insularity, and the myth of exceptionalism; incorporation of fundamentalist religion into politics; the deepening of economic inequality; seeing strength in guns and the person of violence; mistaking ‘in-your-face’ ranting for honest, democratic communication; and the worship of fierce partisanship over compromise.

Other contributors: An extreme patriotism which views those who disagree as enemies of the state; regarding America as white, male-dominated, and Christian; an insouciance toward fact and a suspicion of intellect; the preference for character assignation over rational argument; a fear of ‘others’ and the replacement of thought by slogan.

The result? A society populated by too many politically ignorant and apathetic consumer citizens, easy targets of demagogues. Now, these unsteady forces have the power of social media to create a totalitarian mindset in the heart of what was once the world’s greatest liberal democracy.

What to do?

Given this uncertain future, what should journalists do?

There are two options that should not be followed. One option is for journalists to counter the bombast and distorted statements of the Trumpites by producing a bombastic, counter-balancing opposition press. There is already too much rant-induced media.

“Here is where the first media duty arises: the duty to promote dialogue across divisions.”

The second option is for journalists to see themselves, delusionally, as only neutral chroniclers, as stenographers of ‘fact’ as the political drama unfolds. This is an outdated notion of objectivity formulated in the early 1900s for a different social context.

The best response lies between journalistic ranting and the mincing neutrality of stenographic journalism: it is a democratically engaged journalism committed to three duties.

A democratically engaged journalism is not neutral about its ultimate goals. It regards its ethical norms and methods as means to the flourishing of a self-governing citizenry. Here is where the first media duty arises: the duty to promote dialogue across divisions.

In a column on this site over a year ago, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, I talked about the media’s duty to mend. Journalists have a duty to convene public fora and provide channels of information that allow for frank but respectful dialogue across divisions. They seek to mend the tears in the fabric of the body politic.

In a time of Trump, the duty to practice dialogic journalism is urgent. This means challenging stereotypes and the penchant to demonize. It means linking the victims of hate speech to citizens appalled by such discrimination, building coalitions of cross-cultural support.

Go ‘deep’ politically

However, fostering the right sort of democracy-building conversations is not enough.

Conversations need to be well-informed. Here is where the second duty arises.

Journalism needs to devote major resources to an explanatory journalism that delves deeply into the country’s fundamental political values and institutions, while challenging the myths and fears surrounding issues such as immigration.

The movement of fact-checking web sites is a good idea but insufficient. It is not enough to know that a politician made an inaccurate statement. Many citizens need a re-education in liberal democracy—those broad structures in which specific facts and values takes their place. They will be called on soon to judge many issues that depend on that civic knowledge.

“Journalism needs to devote major resources to an explanatory journalism that delves deeply into the country’s fundamental political values and institutions…”

John Stuart Mill once said that if we do not constantly question why we hold basic beliefs, they become “dead dogma.” How many citizens would be hard-pressed to say what democracy is (beyond voting) or exhibit an understanding of the history and nature of their own constitution beyond phrases such as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? How many have a virulent and imbalanced commitment to the Second Amendment alone?

Such a democracy is flying blind and vulnerable to demagogues.

Here is a small list of some topics for explanatory political journalism:

  • The idea of a constitutional liberal democracy: Not liberal in the derogatory sense of favoring big government but liberal in making the basis of society the protection of a core of basic liberties. Plus, the idea of constitutional protection of the rights of all citizens, including minorities, against the wavering, often tyrannical, will of the majority.
  • The division of powers: The extent of the powers of a president and his duty to uphold constitutional rights including not threatening action against critical speakers. Also, the idea of judicial independence from any president who would try to tell the courts what rights to recognize or reject.
  • Deep background on immigration: Especially the difference between immigrants and refugees, the international refugee agreements, and the human face of the immigrants and refugees who come to this land.
  • The meaning of political correctness: Its origins, the abuse of the term, and its ‘cover’ for hate speech. Plus investigations into groups that support hate speech and thinly ‘disguised’ racism online.
  • The difference between a free press and a democratic press: A free press values the freedom to say what it likes, no matter what the harm done. A democratic press uses its freedom to strengthen and unify plural democracy, while minimizing harm.

Pragmatic objectivity

In carrying out these two duties, journalists are not neutral chroniclers. They are avid investigators of the facts, but they are not stenographers repeating other people’s alleged facts. They accept the third duty, of pragmatic objectivity—to systematically test the social and political views of themselves, and others.

Those who adopt pragmatic objectivity are engaged journalists who see their norms and methods as means to a larger political goal—providing accurate, verified and well-evidenced interpretations of events and policies as the necessary informational base for democracy. Their stories are not without perspective or conclusions, yet such judgments are evaluated by criteria that go beyond citing specific facts, from logical rigor to coherence with pre-existing knowledge.

“…the third duty, of pragmatic objectivity—to systematically test the social and political views of themselves, and others.”

Pragmatic objectivity recognizes that any code of journalism ethics is based on a more fundamental political and social conception of a good society—in this case an egalitarian and plural democracy. Within this overarching set of values, journalists can go about being as factual, verificational, and impartial in daily practice as they please. But they do not pretend that they are completely neutral, without values and goals. Objectivity is not a value-free zone.

In my book, The Invention of Journalism Ethics, some years ago, I introduced this idea of pragmatic objectivity as a method for testing any form of journalism. My aim was to provide a substitute for the traditional idea of news objectivity as eliminating interpretation and perspective. I believe this conception is now a timely norm for today’s journalism.

Ethics as political morality

In sum, the new social context calls on journalists to clarify their political goals and roles.

In the days ahead, the key issues of journalism ethics will be questions of political morality—the way we think a democracy ought to be organized, and the media’s role in it.

Many journalism conferences focus on practical “tool box” tips, such as using new technology; or, they focus on how to attract audiences through social media.

Yet, when a country enters an uncertain political period, journalists need to return to journalism ethics and political themes, just as such themes arose during the civil rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For many journalists and news organizations, the next several years will be a severe test of their beliefs and ideals—and their will to defend them.

Journalists will not escape the searching question: Why are you a journalist? 

Stephen J. A. Ward is an internationally recognized media ethicist, author and educator. He is a distinguished lecturer in ethics at the University of British Columbia, Courtesy Professor at the University of Oregon, and the founding director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin. His book, Radical Media Ethics: A Global Approach, won the 2016 Tankard Book Award.

Featured photo (top right of page) by Disney/ABC Television Group CC BY-ND

How to teach the ethics of using eyewitness video

When journalism students visit our offices at WITNESS to learn about video and human rights advocacy, the most common questions we hear are on the ethics of using eyewitness footage: How do you verify a video you find online? How do you know if a video is “verified” and if you can use it in your story? When and how would you use videos made by terrorist groups in a report?

As a human rights organization dedicated to using video as a tool for advocacy, these are questions we and our partners wrestle with every day. Increasingly, video documenting human rights abuse is filmed not by professionals but by average bystanders who have never been trained on issues like informed consent or by organizations aiming to spark fear or groups attempting to spread misinformation.

When such videos surface as part of a news story or a human rights investigation, what is a journalist or advocate to do with them? How do we apply the traditional codes of ethics when using footage we ourselves did not produce (often described as “user-generated content,” “UGC” or “citizen video”)?

It’s not surprising these questions are what young professionals want to talk about. Eyewitness videos are not only a central part of news reporting today, but a common element in social media channels. Addressing the ethics of using eyewitness footage provides students with a lesson that is immediately relevant to their own practices as consumers, creators and curators of information.

Yet, guidance on the ethics of using eyewitness footage hasn’t caught up with its importance as a reporting tool. WITNESS’s Ethical Guidelines for using Eyewitness Videos in Human Rights Reporting and Advocacy was created to begin to fill that gap.

Considering the stakeholders of eyewitness footage

WITNESS’ guidelines were written to help reporters, producers and advocates think through who could be affected by sharing eyewitness footage, and how to minimize potential harm to those people. After all, ethical mishaps are often the result of a lack of information. In the case of eyewitness footage, many reporters or producers simply don’t know what questions to ask about the footage and haven’t had a chance to consider the potential consequences of sharing it with a wider audience.

The guide is organized in three sections depending on the stakeholders of the footage. When teaching the ethics of using eyewitness footage, this is a good place to start. For any video, the central questions you’ll want to think through are:

  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • How could they be potentially harmed by the footage?
  • How could you as a journalist minimize potential harm?

You might be asking, why “stakeholders”? Why not just “filmers”? Or “subjects”?

When using eyewitness footage, there are a number of different people who could be affected by its distribution. First of all, there are those on camera. You don’t necessarily know if they consented to being filmed or even knew that they were on camera. Finding themselves on the evening news could change their lives forever. Depending on the nature of the footage, it could put them at risk of humiliation, harassment or worse.

Other stakeholders include those who filmed the footage and those who shared it. (Often this is the same person, but it could be different people with distinct objectives). Did they realize they were sharing it publicly? Could the footage put them at risk due to the nature of the footage? Are they aware of the consequences of attaching their identity to the footage, and did they take steps to protect their identity (such as sharing it on a new YouTube account without their name on it)?

If someone uploaded a video to their Facebook page, they may only expect their circle of friends to see it. We’ve seen several headline news cases involving eyewitness footage in which the filmer later expressed regret for associating their name with the footage (such as the bystander who filmed the chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island). The safety of those who provide newsworthy footage is critical for journalists to consider.

Finally, stakeholders include the audience. What are the potential consequences of sharing footage that may turn out to have been disseminated as part of a misinformation campaign or a hate group? What sort of footage would warrant a warning to viewers about its graphic nature? How can a journalist share footage responsibly when it has not been independently verified?

How to teach the ethics of eyewitness footage

Our ethical guidelines don’t provide answers to these scenarios, but rather sets of questions to help reporters identify and address ethical challenges that can easily fall through the cracks.

In your classroom, you can find an example from the week’s news, from your community or from a class project, and use these checklists as a starting point for a discussion on the ethics of reporting with eyewitness footage.




If you are searching for examples for discussion, you can find several from around the world in WITNESS’ Ethical Guidelines. The Eyewitness Media Hub’s Medium channel is another great source of case studies illustrating how eyewitness footage used in the media inadvertently affected the people behind the footage.

More Resources

For much more on the ethics of using eyewitness footage in reporting, check out our blog series tackling a different aspect of the topic each week. The Eyewitness Media Hub, First Draft News and the ONA’s Build Your Own Ethics Code are other fantastic resources for guidance, tools and case studies on using eyewitness videos in reporting.

How do you discuss the ethics of using eyewitness video to journalism students, and what has been particularly challenging or successful? What resources would you recommend? We look forward to hearing from your experience in the comments below.

Madeleine Bair leads the WITNESS Media Lab at WITNESS where she examines how eyewitness video can be used safely, ethically, and effectively for human rights reporting and advocacy. Follow her on Twitter @madbair and follow WITNESS at @WITNESSorg. WITNESS Program Coordinator Sarah Kerr also contributed to this post.

This post originally published at MediaShift. Reposted here with permission.

Ethics in the News Oct. 6

The deadly campus shooting Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, that left 10 dead and others injured conjured up familiar ethics debates about reporting in post-tragedy environments.

Notably, conversation circulated around the naming of mass shooters, following comments by Douglas County Sheriff John Hanline who refused to say the shooter’s name publicly. While many have rallied behind movements like #NoNotoriety as a strategy to deter mass shooters, National Public Radio’s Elizabeth Jensen argued in favor of shooter identification as a means of unraveling a story and placing it in the larger context to hopefully identify trends and prevent future tragedies. Poynter’s Kelly McBride added that naming the shooter can prevent misinformation, citing the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where gunman Adam Lanza’s brother, Ryan Lanza, was incorrectly identified as the perpetrator early in the investigation.

But some large news organizations like CNN have observed the #NoNotoriety concerns and minimized both naming and showing the community college shooter. Fox News evening host Megyn Kelly brought the debate to Twitter voicing her disagreement with CNN’s Don Lemon who asserted that “we journalists must name shooters” in a tweet of his own. The debate is sure to continue as details emerge about UCC gunman Chris Mercer, 26, following the Oct. 1 shooting.

In other journalism ethics news this week:

Center for Journalism Ethics in the news:

The search for sensitive coverage of the tragedy of suicide: An Australian story

One of the toughest situations a journalist can face is reporting on tragic events, especially the delicate matter of suicide. In this article, professor and longtime Australian journalist Leo Bowman tells the story of one newspaper’s unique campaign to start an open conversation about the complex issue of mental health. Continue reading

Of Vultures and Watchdogs

Nelson Mandela is a national treasure for South Africans. Our government recently issued new banknotes with Mandela’s face on it, a daily reminder of the social, cultural and political capital that the country’s first democratic president created. Mandela is also globally admired. So it’s understandable Continue reading

Brand Journalism

In this article, journalist Ira Basen asks a pointed question: Is the growing trend of ‘brand journalism’ — corporations producing ‘content’ to promote their brands – good or bad for journalism and the public sphere? Is it ‘really’ journalism, and how do we define journalism anyway? If skilled journalists produce accurate articles for corporation web sites and magazines, who cares if it is not produced by the mainstream news media? Continue reading