Be independent

Hopefully, you have read and taken to heart the handout on journalism ethics. I will be (briefly) lecturing on them in Thursday’s class.

But there is one ethical concern I wanted to highlight as you formulate your plans for your first project, and it’s about journalistic independence. If you are affiliated with another party (by being a member of a group or part of their family), you can no longer claim independence in your reporting. The online pub Breitbart is going through that right now with its congressional credentials because its maybe-not-so-former top editor, Stephen Bannon, is Trump’s adviser, and many of its investors are huge GOP fundraisers. Those associations raise legitimate questions about whether it’s an actual “news” organization or an instrument of the administration.

So, as you pursue your event stories, challenge yourselves and retain your independence by choosing a group you’re not in, that your roommate isn’t in, that isn’t an event happening at a place owned by a close family friend. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in your email. I’m happy to walk you through it.

Good luck!

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About jbcox

I am an assistant professor in the Communication Arts Department at Salisbury University. I teach classes in journalism and public relations, and my research area is online journalism.
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