Media sought ways to report on controversy without perpetuating it
Recently in Media Ethics Category
After 20 years at Fox affiliate KMSP (Fox 9), Twin Cities news anchor Robyne Robinson announced her retirement from broadcast journalism on May 11, 2010, shortly before being named gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza’s running mate for lieutenant governor on May 27. The timing of Robinson’s departure, as well as Fox 9’s decision to allow her to remain on the air briefly without acknowledging the offer from the Entenza campaign, prompted criticism of both Robinson and her employer over a potential conflict of interest.
A Twin Cities magazine’s “outing” of a controversial anti-gay rights pastor in June 2010 focused national attention on the issue of whether, when, and how the news media should report on hypocrisy among outspoken critics of gay rights.
In the wake of a controversial article in Rolling Stone that led to the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a debate emerged within the journalistic community about the unofficial rules that bind beat reporters, and the potential chilling effect the scandal may have on media coverage of the military.
The New York Times Co. apologized and agreed to pay $114,000 to Singaporean leaders as part of an out-of-court settlement after the International Herald Tribune ran a story on Feb. 15, 2010 that included Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two predecessors in a list of Asian "political dynasties."
In February 2010, two high-profile plagiarism scandals involving a reporter for The New York Times and the chief investigative reporter for news website The Daily Beast resulted in the resignations of both journalists. Both men allegedly used language from other online news sources without acknowledgement or attribution, highlighting one of the potential pitfalls of web-based journalism.
Several major news organizations drew criticism in recent months for paying sources or providing gifts in exchange for exclusive licensing or interview rights.
The Washington Post deleted a reporter's Jan. 27, 2010 blog post on the newspaper's website that was critical of the relationship between The Post's editorial board and a prominent local school official, and reposted a redacted version of the same story a few hours later without notifying readers that the post had been altered. The episode highlighted an ongoing debate over the extent to which news organizations should notify readers of changes to online content.
Citing potential threats of violence, Yale University Press removed 12 Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad that sparked a series of riots in 2006 from a forthcoming book about the cartoon controversy. Other historical images of Muhammad, including a drawing for a children's book, an Ottoman print, and a sketch by 19th-century artist Gustave Doré, were also deleted from the book, titled "The Cartoons That Shook the World."
In what was widely viewed as an act of self-censorship, publishing giant Conde Nast suppressed the publication of a controversial story in the September 2009 issue of the Russian edition of one of its magazines, drawing the ire of American journalists and media critics.
An Associated Press (AP) decision to publish a photograph of a fatally wounded Marine in Afghanistan drew sharp criticism from the Pentagon and sparked a journalistic debate in September 2009 after the AP made the photograph public over the objections of the soldier's family. The controversy over the release of the photograph eventually led to modifications in the rules governing media photography of the war in Afghanistan.
A series of hidden-camera videos released in September 2009 depicting employees of the nonprofit group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) advising a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute resulted in the elimination of the organization's federal funding, a lawsuit against the filmmakers, and a bevy of media commentary surrounding news coverage of the videos.