Recent Journalism Commentaries

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What Would Will Do?
According to today’s Wall Street Journal, in 2008, “Shellee Hale of Bellevue, Wash., posted in several online forums about a hacker attack on a company that makes software used to track sales for adult-entertainment Web sites. She claimed that personal information of the sites’ customers was compromised. “About three months later,” the Journal wrote, “the software company — which contends that no consumer...
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May 21, 2009
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A Matter of Principle
There’s always a debate about journalistic ethics when the media goes too far.  But there are journalists who stand by their own standards even when pressured by others. Charles Lewis founded the Center for Public Integrity after eleven years as an investigative reporter at ABC News and CBS News, as well as a producer for 60 Minutes. The following is a story Lewis shared with me...
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April 8, 2009
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The Integrity of Restraint
It’s easy to criticize reporters when they go too far, but what about the times when reporters are pressured to go farther… and they don’t. Charles Lewis founded the Center for Public Integrity after eleven years as an investigative reporter at ABC News and CBS News, as well as a producer for 60 Minutes. The following story comes from my...
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June 13, 2008
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Genuine Experience and Integrity
It’s interesting to see the direction these commentaries take.  I never have a preconceived plan.  I go where the story and the ethical issue take me. In Monday’s post (June 10) I had strong feelings that “Vanity Fair” editor Todd Purdum’s use of anonymous sources to insinuate that former President Bill Clinton’s “…appearances of impropriety” on the road campaigning for...
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June 13, 2008
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Caesar’s Wife
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt recently discussed the issue of anonymous sources used in news stories.  He characterized the use of such sources as both “the lifeblood and bane of journalism.” On the “lifeblood” side we have the Pentagon Papers and Watergate – two significant stories that quite possibly might not have seen the light of newsprint and...
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June 10, 2008
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The Value of an Apology
The CBS news show “60 Minutes” ran two compelling stories last Sunday (May 4).  I’m not sure if the producers were aware just how similar, yet ethically different the first two stories were. Both segments talked about mistakes that were made.  Both discussed the tragic, personal costs of those mistakes.  However, that is where one story took a “right” turn....
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May 7, 2008
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A Higher Ground
Dick Capen’s career is a unique blend of newspaper publishing and diplomacy. After leaving as publisher and chairman of The Miami Herald, Capen served as the United States Ambassador to Spain and Assistant Secretary of Defense. Known for his commitment to personal values and a positive approach to life, he is a nationally recognized columnist, author, and speaker on contemporary...
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May 5, 2008
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Crossing the Line
Moral relativists won’t lose any sleep over this one. Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (“The Fog of War,” “The Thin Blue Line”) has apparently pulled off another controversial winner with his new film “Standard Operating Procedure” which examines the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq at the hands of our own military. This time, however Morris got a...
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April 28, 2008