Walla Walla: FOI on Friday

WALLA WALLA, WASH.–The second session of the day and the last of this swing through Idaho and Washington. Thanks to the William O. Douglas Chapter of SPJ, especially Jillian and Paula, and the staff and management of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, which provided the venue. The conference room was filled with FOI believers who were quite appreciative that SPJ would come to southeastern Washington. A great group of people who willingly spent a late Friday afternoon talking FOI. I made sure I was done by 5:00 so the weekend could begin–for everyone.

One interesting note–this afternoon’s Union Bulletin had no less than four front page stories with an FOI hook, either from records or meetings.

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  • JHamer

    The original code said: “Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.” That sentence was deleted in the revised drafts. It should be reinstated. Journalists should actively seek and encourage feedback, criticism and suggestions from the public. Yes, sometimes it is unpleasant and annoying. But it is essential to earning public trust in the long run. Journalists are widely perceived as people who “can dish it out, but can’t take it.” They should be totally transparent about themselves, absolutely accountable if they make mistakes, and fully open to other points of view. SPJ should also form an Ethics Oversight Committee to publicly adjudicate complaints against media organizations or individual journalists in certain cases, if the complaints cannot be resolved in any other way. I say this as one who ran the Washington News Council for the past 15 years, where we heard complaints against media organizations in open public hearings. The SPJ Ethics Code was our “gold standard,” and we often quoted from it at the hearings. If SPJ is unwilling to “enforce” its own code, then the code will be seen as essentially meaningless, no matter how it is rewritten and revised. See http://wanewscouncil.org for details.

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