2003 Silha Center Spring Ethics Forum

Since the September 11 attacks, journalists face new ethical challenges. Concerns about national security, personal safety and tighter restrictions on government and law enforcement information have prompted some reporters to ask how they can do their jobs and still be good citizens.

Peter Sussman, co-author of the original code of ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists, will present "A New Kind of Warfare Demands a New Kind of Journalism: Rethinking Journalists' Wartime Ethics," on April 14, 2003 in the Mississippi Room of the newly-refurbished Coffman Union on the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) campus.


  • Sussman says that reporters, editors, and journalists are asking:

  • How do you balance accountability against independence?

  • How can seeking truth and reporting it be balanced against minimizing
    harm?

  • To whom are reporters, editors and journalists responsible? To their
    news organization? To their government?
  • When can - or should - patriotism get in the way of reporting news
    in war time?


Sussman's workshop will address topics such as "Assessing our motivation in publishing or suppressing information;" "Assessing the Government's motivation in seeking suppression;" and "Assessing the reliability of the information." He has held his "balancing factors" workshops at the SPJ regional conference in San Francisco, and at the 2002 SPJ national convention in Fort Worth, Tex.

Light refreshments will be available starting at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. This workshop marks the observance of SPJ's inaugural "Ethics in Journalism Week," and is co-sponsored by the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Minnesota Journalism Center.

The workshop is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Elaine Hargrove-Simon in the Silha Center at (612) 625-3421 or by e-mail at silha@umn.edu. Peter Sussman, who for 29 years served as an editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is a recipient of the Wells Key award, SPJ's highest honor. He also is co-author of Committing Journalism: The Prison Writings of Red Hog, a book about Dannie Martin, who served time in a California prison for robbery and faced retaliation for attempting to publish his prison memoirs. Sussman's other works include chapters in Censored 1997: The News That Didn't Make the News - The Year's Top 25 Censored News Stories, by Peter Phillips and Project Censored. He has also written two foundation-financed reports: Three Strikes: The Unintended Victims for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, and Reaching for the Dream: Profiles in Affirmative Action for a coalition of California civil rights organizations.

Sussman has also taught journalism courses at California State University, Hayward, and San Francisco State University. He has served as a volunteer writing coach/mentor at San Francisco State's Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism. He was recently awarded the California First Amendment Coalition's Beacon Award after refusing to comply with a sweeping subpoena for his editorial, political, financial, and other documents on the issue of media access to prisoners.

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