Staff
Jane Kagon
Executive Editor
Marion Brown
Managing Editor  
Mike Campbell
Social Media Editor 
Maureen Feldman
Social Enterprise Editor 
Karina Saravia
Science Editor 
Nadia Walker
Entertainment Editor 
Ariel Lapidus
Communication Design Editor 
Bob Lasiewicz
Education Editor 
Kris Slava
Entertainment Editor 
Marty Perlmutter
Journalism Editor
Richard Kroon
Education Editor 
Lisa Mattson
Science Editor 
Corine Ganem
Journalism Editor

 

In partnership with

Search

Journalism

Transformation in channels of news delivery and the ascendence of the blogger-reporter raise challenges for citizens and the Republic. The JUST Journalsim Section examines the nascent obligations of those who shape public opinion and purvey "news" in emerging media.

Marty PerlmutterPatricia Mendoza

Journalism

Thursday
Mar012012

Digging Deeper into The New York Times’ Fact-Checking Faux Pas

Lucas Graves
Nieman Journalism Lab, January 18, 2012 

Once in a while the cultural fault lines in American journalism come into unexpectedly sharp relief. Jon Stewart’s now-legendary star turn on “Crossfire” was one of those moments; the uproar over NPR’s refusal (along with most major news outlets) to call waterboarding torture was another. The New York Times may have added another clash to this canon with public editor Arthur Brisbane’s blog post on fact-checking last week...

Times to Internet: Should we fact-check the things politicians say?

Internet to Times: Are you freakin’ kidding?

Read More...

Wednesday
Feb152012

The Ethics of Journalism

Marion Brown
February, 2012 

This month we transition our Ethics section into Journalism. The past few decades have been a period of immense change for journalism–media conglomeration, proliferation of social media, citizen journalism, and Facebook political campaigns and Twitter-led revolutions are just some of the factors that have eroded and re-formed the role of the journalist.  As major media institutions downsized and employed fewer and fewer journalists, new media outlets, along with new content creators–bloggers, cell phone photographers, videographers, and twitterers have put the power of the fourth estate into the hands of millions. 

What's lost in this age of media convergence and dispersion is the definition of a journalist in any meaningful sense. Most media outlets are no longer staffed by journalists, but instead rely on guest or freelance bloggers along with aggregated and syndicated content. With no professional training in ethics, no professional standards, no staff of proofreaders, fact checkers or even editors to challenge, give feedback, raise issues of integrity or accuracy. As yet, there is no reliable check on the system except the massive transparency that the web enables. What should we be expecting from journalism? Does it still have a specific role or has it become so diffuse that we need a new definition and new subsets of journalists? As we are losing traditional methods of authentication and accountability, are we gaining such a volume of contributors that the truth rises to the surface? 

As we follow the trends in Journalism, we will keep an eye on: Who are the new journalists? Where is the information coming from? What  stories are being told? When will a new standard of a journalism be defined? 

Wednesday
Feb152012

The Chimera of Journalistic Moral Neutrality

Marty Perlmutter
February, 2012 

In a time of bellicose media posturing, with its premium on advocacy and discount of accuracy, a mythology has arisen that journalists are morally neutral and their craft entails no more than delivery of reports. The reasons for this mythology are commercial and evident: To command the widest audience (and advertising dollars), or to capture the most passionate advocates for a particular point of view, it is vital that there be message be aimed at the willing.

Media no longer even pretend to a role of enlightening the civic dialogue, let alone advancing a sense of collective agenda. Kovach and Rosenstiel term this "the Argument Culture" in "The Elements of Journalism" and blame it for "the diminished level of reporting, the devaluing of experts, the emphasis on a narrow range of blockbuster stories, and the emphasis on an oversimplified, polarized debate." The result is a tide of disengagement from public discussion through the media and a consequent negative feedback loop that imperils the survival of even a vestige of the public interest role of media.

Journalism has a crucial role in serving a "public interest," a collective requirement for civil dialogue, compromise, clear and accurate explication of positions, and investigation of the motivation of politicians, activists and players in the cultural and economic commons. Journalism's first obligation must be to the truth, its first loyalty to citizens, with a strict discipline of  verification, and its practitioners necessarily independent from those they cover. Journalism is an independent monitor of power. It provides a public forum for criticism and, yes, compromise. Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience. 

Tuesday
Feb142012

The Ethics Of Social Networking For Journalists 

Estrella Gutierrez
Inter Press Service, January 28, 2011

The digital revolution is turning people into producers, as well as consumers, of media content. But this new reality has yet to be fully assimilated, and journalists face questions and uncertainties about their social role, their duties and also their rights.

…What are the rights and responsibilities of professional communicators with regard to the social media? Are journalists barred by their profession from expressing themselves on networks like Twitter? Can media owners set limits on what reporters say as private individuals online? Read more…

Monday
Feb132012

Syracuse Abuse Case Stirs Media Ethics Debate

Associated Press, December 8, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. — More than eight years ago, ESPN and a Syracuse newspaper had an audiotape on which the wife of a Syracuse University assistant basketball coach now accused of sex abuse said she knew "everything that went on" with him.

They kept it to themselves — not reporting the news of its existence and not turning it over to authorities who are now investigating claims against Bernie Fine. Read more…

Monday
Feb132012

Presidential Race Coverage Raises Conflict Issues

Associated Press, December 7, 2011

NEW YORK–Political consultant Dick Morris recently disclosed on Fox News Channel that some of the Republican presidential candidates that he talks about on the air have paid for advertisements in a newsletter he sends out to subscribers.

...Such entanglements are laying bare the close ties between the media and political world during this campaign season while raising familiar questions: How much should consumers be clued in to preserve the sense that news organizations are acting independently? And what should journalists do to avoid the perception of a conflict? Read more…

Saturday
Feb112012

'Photographer Photoshops Image' Shock

Bob Garfield
guardian.co.uk, February 6, 2012

The Sacramento Bee newspaper has fired a man for editing a nature image. Don't all journalists alter reality?

All of us media consumers should applaud the management of theSacramento Bee, which this weekend courageously fired photographer Bryan Patrick for high crimes against journalism. Patrick, or as he shall forever be known, the Great Satan, actually deserved far worse. Read more…

Wednesday
Jan182012

Justice Journalism: Journalist as Agent of Social Change

Terry Messman
Media Alliance 

Many forms of politically engaged journalism have arisen to fight social injustices in the course of U.S. history: the radical pamphlets by Thomas Paine that helped incite a revolutionary uprising against British rule; the muckraking reporting of Upton Sinclair that exposed inhumane conditions in the Chicago stockyards; the investigation of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell; Dorothy Day's prophetic reporting on the injustice of poverty in her groundbreaking Catholic Worker newspaper; the attacks on municipal corruption by Lincoln Steffens; the exposé of the profiteering funeral industry by Jessica Mitford; the no-holds-barred struggle with the war machine waged by the underground press of the 1960s. These and other crusading journalists have left us an inspiring historic legacy of morally charged, politically engaged reporting. They were all socially conscious writers who, in varying ways, practiced "justice journalism." Read more…

Wednesday
Jan182012

Separating News from Opinion & What is Journalistic Truth?

Tuesday
Dec132011

Fairness, Morality and Media – The Ajax Dilemma

Marty Perlmutter
November, 2011 

Since the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by the FCC in 1987 there has been no requirement to publicize multiple viewpoints. This resulted from an emerging abundance in channels, but led to the disappearance of minority positions from mass media. Paradoxically, media practitioners carry a vestigial urge to present “both sides” of major issues. Often it allows media professionals to pretend that there are two sides to issues of ethical moment. One such example can be found in the Occupy movement in which on “side” opposes income inequality and the political corruption that defends its continuation. The other “side” proclaims “I got mine” and urges a sort of Darwinian rationale.

In The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness and Rewards”, Paul Woodruff, explores the issue of how to distribute rewards to individuals without damaging the larger community. The author studies the issue of rewards as expressions of the values of a community. This begins to address: what do we value more, cleverness or hard work, loyalty or inventiveness? Ajax, courageous, loyal and hard-working, but is bested in competition by Odysseus, not entirely trustworthy, but a clever strategist who can outthink his opponent. 

Most of us are like Ajax,  loyal to our community and angry when the rewards go to those of divergent values. Justice entails resolution of conflict, and dispersal of rewards, in a way that leaves the community intact. Ajax did not receive justice, nor is justice found in the recently cleared public plazas of American cities. Failed justice destroys motivation, morale and engagement. 

Monday
Aug082011

Nadir for the News: Hacking Decency

Rupert Murdoch and Prime Minister David Cameron have both struggled to tamp down outrage accompanying the spreading oil slick of News of the World's phone hacking scandal. Their efforts have delayed but not staunched the deluge. Britain's oldest, largest circulation weekly tabloid is now defunct. News Corp's bid for control of BSkyB has been withdrawn. Top management at News quakes and counter-punches as the government of the United Kingdom faces a crisis that has overwhelmed every policy initiative on the docket.

Britain has different regulations about press freedom and responsibility than the US. That gossamer legal sieve coexisted with cultural celebrity-obsession was a toxic cocktail that entailed co-optation of government by media as the ruling party became dependent on media support. Recent PM's have courted the tabloid press, winking at improprieties and compromising public media policy so long as dominant media supported incumbent administrations. Ongoing mutual corruption drew in the Metropolitan Police and now an entire government is under assault as a formal investigation proceeds and key appointments questioned.

Regulations aside, fundamental ethical issues emerge each day in hacking story revelations. What of the right to privacy? What moral principle could excuse hacking terrorist victims' phones? How could anyone argue the moral rectitude of exploiting dead soldiers' families? Outrage crescendos. This nadir in ethical media conduct  was enabled by a corrupt and fawning series of governments. A Utilitarian calculus led to this verge. Over that precipice we can all see the descent our media have undergone, accompanied by public taste and now by government itself. 

Sunday
Aug072011

The Hacking Scandal and the Two Faces of Murdoch  

JAMES PONIEWOZIK 
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal in Great Britain is getting juicier and more astonishing. The long-runner paper was summarily killed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in an apparent damage-control attempt; the legal investigation is widening; and the list of the paper's purported snooping targets has widened to include crime victims, politicians and possibly police investigators and a former Prime Minister. Or even the Queen.   Read more...

Sunday
Aug072011

Why We Need the Tabloids

The New York Times
 by RYAN LINKOF
July 19, 2011

AS long as we have had tabloids, we have had tabloid scandals.
Weighing in on the spate of scandals plaguing the British tabloid press, one commentator in 1936 acidly condemned what he called “the almost unbelievable indecency of the intrusion of the tabloid newspaper into people’s private lives.” Surely only the most degraded, low-minded people, he claimed, could produce this kind of news.    Read more...

Sunday
Aug072011

The Phone-hacking Scandal:The Lowest Low

The Economist
July 7 2011

The phone-hacking saga jeopardises more than merely the News of the World: it threatens Rupert Murdoch, the press as a whole, the police and politicians.

UNTIL this week, the victims in the scandal over the illegal hacking of mobile-phone messages by the News of the World seemed mostly to be celebrities, royals and others too privileged to command much sympathy. For the tabloid, that was a useful mitigation in the court of public opinion, if not in law. No longer. The sordid antics of Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday paper—owned by News International, Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper outfit—look more promiscuous and more gravely criminal. And the circle of blame and taint is widening.   Read more... 

Thursday
Jul072011

Jihadi Politics and the Ethics of Mutual Support

Marty Perlmutter
July, 2011 

The media gorges itself on embarrassment and titillation. Issues of planetary survival, nuclear disarmament, peace and mutual care are subordinated in public attention to tawdry revelations of sexual piccadillos by Congressmen, heads of the IMF, et al. One might almost imagine the distractions are orchestrated. Or is it just the triumph of the amygdala over the prefrontal cortex? Likely the latter.

The media feeding frenzy that surrounded recent non-issues, amidst clear and present dangers to the republic and species, may have been a betrayal of trust placed in purveyors of public information. Is it unethical to distract the nation at a critical moment with a story that has no moral, in any sense?

For some time we have stopped asking aloud, What are the obligations of the press? Is it possible to have democracy without a healthy, hectoring press? Who investigates the powerful? Who broadcasts the facts? Who jousts with government? Who can uphold our nascent culture of total disclosure? These are not competences of the Drudge Report, and seem not to be concerns of Fox "News." Amidst tides of digital transformation, informed citizens and government officials have a moral obligation to preserve the Fourth Estate: investigate and verify, disseminate news widely, re-broadcast fair responses. Here is the Commons crucial to our political survival. If the press becomes the unfettered home of titillation and distraction, and that alone, we face unprecedented danger. This is a moral matter, a matter of ought, not is, as we demand that the press go beyond sating the appetites of consumers.